I was talking to a few expats recently about Christmas in the US and Christmas outside the US. All of us agreed that Christmas in the US was somehow more Christmas-y than in Chile and it may be the weather and it may be the traditions, but once I walk into a mall decorated floor to ceiling in big plastic bulbs, fake evergreen branches and tinsel, I know exactly what I miss about Christmas, namely the
commercialization *cough* symbolism.
And you’ve just audibly rolled your eyes at me. I can hear it over here. But seriously. I’m thinking pumpkin flavored everything, gifts wrapped in crinkly paper with silky bows, trees decorated to overflowing with kitschy ornaments, toasty hearths, listening to the Christmas music on almost every radio station, watching the Christmas movie marathons on TV, the bell ringers outside every store, the parades, the carolers, the clothes that you only wear once or twice a year, the winter activities (well, maybe when I was younger), and the sales leading up to and directly following Christmas.
Now, Chile has done a lot of catching up in the last seven years since I spent my first Christmas here. I now here Christmas music playing out from the grocery stores and coffee shops and kids line up to see legitimate looking Santas–not some skinny kid with a plastic beard and his harem of bikini-clad Mrs. Clauses. And that is okay with me. This is one time of year I’m cool with globalization.
I know that these cheap symbols are not supposed to be what the season is about, but they are what do and what have always signaled to me that the season was upon us. They make me feel comfortable and nostalgic–like I want to impart some goodwill on my fellow man.