In some ways, it doesn’t feel anything like Christmas. It’s certainly not cold. I’m sitting on an ice pack, drinking a sweating margarita, directly in front of a fan on a setting so high my eyelids feel like they’re peeling off my skull. I haven’t seen or smelled a single Christmasy smell (I’d settle for a tiny pine tree swinging from a rear view mirror). I’m typing this from our hammock, slathered in bug repellent and some hippie homemade remedy for sunburns. There are no wrapped presents under our tiny bedazzled fake pine. No Christmas songs play – I’ve discovered the Joni Mitchell Youtube channel and it feels nice, despite the jarring interruptions of chocolate commercials in Portuguese. (Even in another country, they know my weaknessess. Even now, I am walking to the kitchen.)
But it feels really good?! Oddly good to be where I’m at. I spent last Christmas completely alone, in bed with Netflix and an obscene amount of food and wine. I didn’t talk to a soul all day. Didn’t shower or put on a bra or brush my teeth (this still sounds like a good idea for a day, but without the crippling depression part). So anything would be better, but this new life I’m living is so so great.
School is out for six sexy weeks, which seems like just the perfect amount of time for me to sleep forever, do some significant traveling, regroup and revitalize. Yet when I consider my ELD students, it’s way too much time. “Make good choices! Please don’t forget all your English!” I begged as they skipped away from me on the last day. And besides how worried I am about the progress we’ve made in their language skills vanishing into the summer heat wave, I’m missing some of them like the big sap I am. I’ve already gotten email from the sweet dollface who wanders into my classroom three or four times a day for a hug or to give me a drawing. The same angel who got me my only present – a bar of soap. Which I found sweet but it also made me very self-conscious? wrote this:
“hi miss waigth. i love you.” – her first email.
“is maria.” – her second email. (her email address is her name.)
so freaking cute. Get back over here and let me love you!
We had our staff Christmas party this week: a luau at one of my favorite kiosks with all-you-could-eat Brazilian noms and then games on the beach. We had a sack race and a limbo contest and a pretty violent and unhygienic game of bobbing for apples. And a fantastic photo shoot with the new selfie-stick.
I loved the people at my old teaching job (and miss some of you and your hugs and wisdom desperately), but it’s one of the greatest things about this job to not feel like the only young, single, childless person on staff. There are family people here, too, and maybe it’s just the community we live in or the Brazilian vibe, but everyone is so much fun. Standing up and dancing in the middle of a restaurant, screaming at each other over a Bingo game, photobombing couples taking ridiculously contrived pictures at sunset (sorry, Marj!) levels of fun. I’m no longer the only happy-hour-organizing, costume-wearing, fast-talking, always slightly inappropriate, over-eating, hug-junkie smartass on staff. And it feels great. THANKS, JESUS.
Speaking of my homie Jesus…like, I do not care if you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” or “Hay un gato en mis pantalones” to me or anyone else this time of year – you get to celebrate what you want to celebrate, okay? If you want to ask me why I think it’s awesome a tiny baby grew up to be Jesus and change everything for me and other people, we can talk about it, but I’m not going to yell at you for not celebrating it yet or ever. Deal?
Fellow Christians – can we stop pretending we have a monopoly on holiday phrases? It’s pretty unattractive. Save that kind of anger for the real injustices of hunger and violence towards the widows and orphans we’ve been commissioned to protect, and people who talk on their cellphones on public transport, or use speakerphone, or haven’t turned the clicks off on their keyboards.
No one is going to take this day away from you, the way the Church repurposed it from drunken orgy pagan people, oh so many years ago. It’s not even his real birthday, broseph. Jesus was born in the Spring. Maybe even almost summer. Most likely in a cave, not a stable. There were no pine trees. Probably a first and second lobster though. That seems accurate.
The point of Christmas is to love a lot because you were loved and are loved a lot, too. And because it feels nice. So be nice. Do you need some happy? Click here.
And when all else fails, remember this joke:
What do you call an old snowman? Water.