Ready or not, there is no stopping the arrival of Christmas. Perhaps there is no escape, anywhere, from lights, trees, tinsel, and wrapping paper. Not that I necessarily need to escape; it's just a tad incongruous think of Kris Kringle in 90-degree-plus weather with a beach view. And it's not our first Christmas spent by a tropical beach; I simply never get used to palm trees juxtaposed to Christmas trees. My failure to embrace Christmas in the tropics is odd because DFW weather can be 80 on Christmas day . . . or 25. So my usual need to decorate, evidently rooted deeply within my genes, is certainly not weather-related . . . it's merely gone missing this year.
Make no mistake: Ticos decorate for Christmas. The stores are full of faux trees, lighted stars to hang, huge and colorful ornaments . . . you name it, it's available here. I wonder whether the Maxi Pali has a pool raft imprinted with little Christmas trees . . . maybe snowflakes. In reality, they probably do; and I could spend all December 25th floating and drinking eggnog martinis (Becky, I've perfected the recipe).
I just returned from a few days in Texas. I brought back enough baking loot to make about 50 pounds of sweets. No, I’m not speaking of sweets weighing a total of 50 pounds; I’m speaking of 50 pounds of weight gain. Not a pretty sight. While I was home with my best friend we watched The Great American Baking Show . . . or some such title . . . with loads of holiday baking. It’s one of those food challenge shows where some poor baker goes home in tears, if not genuine then solely for the purpose of good reality television. Whoa! Okay, Gary . . . that may be the best oxymoron ever: good reality TV.
Anyway, perhaps Becky was surprised to discover that I already have my Bûche de Noël in the freezer, just awaiting frosting and placement of its little sugary baked-meringue mushrooms. This traditional yule log cake will certainly go to Lubos and Cynthia. Rusty may be disappointed that we’re breaking several Christmas food traditions this year. No Bûche de Noël, no Christmas morning panettone (though I might try the ol’ panettone if I find the time), no day-after-Christmas French toast made with left-over panettone. Certainly no roasted Long Island duck nor confit. Most of all, no Christmas tree, no holiday lights, no stockings hung with gifts for Jill and Nut-Meg, no cold/cool weather, no crackling logs in the fireplace (even if a North Texas fire oft required A/C to be comfortable).
The extent of my Mil Colinas holiday decorating was the placement of the Chanukah guest towel in my bathroom, followed by its replacement with the Joyeux Noël guest towel, and the placement of a holly-berry guest towel in Rusty’s bath. Oh, and we have a few holiday coffee mugs . . . and a holiday tea towel in the kitchen, which Rusty promptly toted outdoors as his après-run sweat towel. I tell you, that man is full of holiday spirit . . . and clearly worried sick about my Christmas gift.
So the placement of the guest towels was far from random. Rusty doesn’t celebrate Chanukah, I do; so there was no question of its placement. Rusty doesn’t speak French, so the Joyeux Noël guest towel has no meaning in his world. Plus, the holly-berry towel coordinates with the other green tones in Rusty’s bath. See, there is method to my holiday decorating madness, limited as it is this year.
As I type this Rusty is searching the Internet for stores open this sunny Sunday . . . stores that stock holiday items. I didn't anticipate this kind of holiday withdrawal from Rusty, of all people. Looks as if we'll be off on a shopping spree today. Guess I should have finished my Pinterest Christmas tree made from 59 saved toilet paper cardboard rolls. Right.
We’re still deciding how to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And then there’s New Year’s Eve. So many friends, so many options. But let’s get down to the real purpose of this post. On Christmas Eve we will have lived in our new home precisely seven months. A whopping seven months. And what have I learned about life in Samara during those seven months? Just this:
- As with any place on the globe, you can't put a price on true friendship.
- Baking sweets was great when we had workers to whom I could dole-out the sweets, leaving just one or two servings for us. Now a batch of cupcakes is dangerous to my waist-line, not to mention Rusty’s famous crack bars (yes, Sally, I’ll get that recipe to you). However, I was wrong about that extra 20 pounds . . . my DFW physician says that it's only 17.
- Regardless of anything we’ve been told by experts, yes, we do have a constant rotation of birds. Some months/weeks we have no parrots; then one day several varieties of parakeets and parrots arrive en masse.
- Monkeys hate yellow leaves. Why? We can only speculate. Our monkeys will shake violently any tree with yellow leaves, leaving piles of yellow leaves on the roads or forest floor.
- When dry season arrives, spiders move indoors . . . or make every effort to do so. Sorry, Sally -- it's true.
- Bill is correct: the grass grows so quickly that it will keep you awake at night.
- Regardless of what NFL.com promises about international football viewing, it's a lie.
- Don't leave your poolside umbrella open at night. Winds will snap it and you'll have to fish it out of the pool.
- Regarding all of the horrors about which we've been warned involving expat living in Costa Rica? Still waiting. Still in the honeymoon phase.
- My Spanish isn't as bad as I believe it it. Or . . . my knack for playing charades is extraordinary.
So season's greetings to all. We're off to (Dear God) Tamarindo (or perhaps Coco), where Rusty has identified items for his Christmas shopping list. Hey, I said that the man has his jingle on. He's identified this welcome mat; and I can't decide whether it's for us or for . . . . someone else
Anyway, Rusty, my pet, why?! Do we need to go all the way to Tamarindo (or Coco) to find a liquor store? I assure you that a nice gift for me can be found at the Big Green Iguana. Lo que hay.