Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

One of the questions I ask people when I travel is “What do you do for Xmas?”

The answers vary DRASTICALLY depending on the person- not necessarily the culture. At first, I thought “well, in Belize they would celebrate it the same way as other¬†Central Americans, right?” WRONG.


I urge you to ask this to others- or! Write a comment below about how you celebrate your holiday.


I’ve heard all sorts of traditions:

-Filipinos start celebrating in November and don’t stop until WAY after the New Year. (Even when there are typhoons).

-In Belize, they walk around singing carols and go to people’s house, drink, eat, and collect more people for the Caroler Choir.

-In France, it’s similar to ours- except for the food they eat- which is goose and fancy cheese and dried fruit.

-In Cape Town- they have a braai (of course) while they bask in the sunshine/warmth of Summer.


Growing up, my holiday¬†was different because we celebrated both Hannnauakuah (I’m Jew-ISH- emphasis on the ISH) and Christmas. I never understood families that have “2 Christmases” with different parts of the family. It¬†always sounded hectic. My family wouldn’t do stockings- we did Hanukah instead. (This¬†had the added benefit of the dogs not eating the stockings!)

The traditions (growing up) are as follows:

  1. Eat a huge ham/turkey dinner on Xmas-eve. With all the trimmings and what-not.
  2. Mom preps¬†her famous “egg bake” (think savory quiche/bread pudding but in a casserole dish). It needs to soak 12-24 hours in advanced.
  3. Xmas-eve was spent (forced) watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Christmas Story”.
    1. (My fathead brother and I never really liked these films. We always wanted to watch something else- but my mom would whine and complain about “tradition”. These days I would be happy watching Hebrew Hammer. But I digress.
  4. Xmas morning would happen and there would be 1 person making coffee, my mom would put her egg-bake into the oven to cook (it would take 1.5 hours), I was in charge of music (I always loaded the CD player with Xmas music for the first CD and then random CDs afterwards (The Star Wars soundtrack was my popular choice-Mom hated this).
  5. One person would open a gift at a time so we could “all watch their expression” and bask in the ego trip of purchasing more crap than we could ever know what to do with.

The rest of the day was spent either tinkering with the gifts, playing cards, eating cookies, and/or screaming at each other. This is what I remember, anyway.


These days, I have given up on Xmas. This is my 5th xmas in Seattle and I couldn’t be happier. I make a cup of coffee (sometimes with peppermint extract or nutmeg) and turn off all electronic devices and just sit… in silence. Sometimes I nap. Sometimes I knit. Mostly I just watch the rain.

It’s pretty magical.

My grandmother thinks it’s lonely. My parents think it’s lonely. Everyone thinks it’s lonely. I think it’s heaven on earth and it’s the thing I look forward to the most.


What are your holiday traditions? 

Dec 23rd, Leon, Nicaragua

Dear Mom,

I went volcano sledding. Hold on, let me repeat that for you. I SLEDDED DOWN A VOLCANO! Yep. new sport.¬†Basically, you hike (30 min) up the side of the youngest (and most active) volcano in all of central america (Cerro Negro) with a make-shift¬†toboggan (basically a board with a piece of PVC pipe on the front and a piece of¬†formica¬†board on the back), change into an orange jumpsuit (“for protection”), take a deep breath and sled down.

The “ash” is basically fish-gravel (but black, smelly and hot). The sun was beating down on us and most people were still hungover from the night before (the Big Foot Hostel had a huge party the night before with free drinks and a lot of beer pong). The sunset was breathtaking and the thrill of going 70+km on a piece of wood (DOWN A VOLCANO) is totally worth the price of admission (25$– plus you get 2 free mojitos… If you survive).

The only scary thing was the potential of the mountain spewing at any minute. Other than that- it is just a great story and bucket-list item. Not to mention that Leon, Nicaragua is probably one of the safest and cleanest cities I’ve been to yet in all of Central America. Totally worth a visit.

Dec 24th, Isla Los Brasiles, North of Poneloya, Leon, Nicaragua

Dear Mom,

The Hostel had a special where they drove you to the beach for the day and then they provided an all-you-can-stuff x-mas dinner with an open bar. I gladly paid the 25$ and laid on the beach and did absolutely nothing. To say this is paradise is an understatement. Except for the 15 people that were included in the special, the beach was deserted. It was actually a sea-turtle sanctuary (Nicaraguans will scour the beaches in search for the eggs, dig them up, and sell them on the black market. This organization buys the eggs back from them, hatches them as best as they can and releases them back into the wild.) So after a very hectic day of laying on the beach, sunbathing and playing in the bath-water-temperature¬†ocean, I decided to be productive and save some sea turtles before going back to the hostel for an amazing dinner that didn’t disappoint! ūüôā

Dec 28th, San Jose, Costa Rica (Zapote)

Dear Mom,

I went to see a bull fight today at the “Annual Festival”. The whole area was set up with carnival rides, beer and food tents, and a huge stadium that holds (maybe) 5K. The seats are, well, ok–there are no seats. More just like platforms. In the center is a dirt pit and a “moat-like area” that holds all the people (out of reach of the bull).

My (crazy) friends were in the moat until it was their turn to jump into the pit with the bull. No one, sadly, was able to explain to me why this stuff happens– except it’s like Central America’s version of Hockey…. You wait for the blood to show up and then you get all excited and really pay attention.

I should note, though, that my friends got a t-shirt and admission (and the best seats in the house)– and I had to pay 30$USD for a semi-crappy seat. So I think they got the better bargain. (Remember: Risking your life sometimes pays off!)

Would I have jumped in as well? ABSOLUTELY! But someone had to take the pictures.

That’s all for this week, Mom… I hope you didn’t have a heart attack from this.