Christmas in the Tropics

Can I get a Holly Jolly Christmas for one, please?

While I celebrated holidays growing up, the constantly changing family dynamics made it nearly impossible to have family holiday traditions. We had a few things we would try to do every year, but it was never a big deal if they were skipped for a year or two. That’s why when I went to college, I was amazed to hear about all of these Thanksgiving and Christmas family traditions. Some were centered around the kids while others were centered around Scripture. It was fascinating to see the excitement in my friends’ faces when they talked about the holidays. Slowly but surely, that same excitement started to grow inside me. The last two years of holidays spent with family included longer conversations and family games. A huge difference from the post-meal communal nap we all used to take!

My roommates throughout the years also enjoyed decorating for the holidays.

Thanksgiving? Let’s throw up a “I’m thankful for…” wall.
Christmas? A mini Christmas tree and lots of tinsel.
Valentine’s Day? Pink and heart shaped candy everywhere!

I come from a family where the Christmas tree stays up year round or doesn’t get put up at all. Now I will say, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with not decorating or not celebrating holidays con mucha fuerza. There’s a difference in values and that is A-Okay. I have noticed though, that when I am in an environment decorated for the holidays, my spirits are lifted. It adds more excitement to the home and everyday routine. If there is one thing I love, it’s definitely excitement. So I am very thankful for being surrounded by friends who have taught me how to be excited about holidays.

But now I live alone in a different country and am forced to figure out how to carry this excitement sola.

It seems like my two pasts are trying to figure out how to coexist. I want to decorate for the holidays, but what’s the point when there’s only one person living in the house? Am I really going to just hang up one stocking that will never even be filled? I’m pretty sure that would be more depressing than not having a stocking put up at all. What about other Christmas decorations? I just can’t make myself buy all of these Christmas decorations that I’ll only use for one year. Since I’m in between countries right now, it’s harder to justify buying holiday decorations.

So how do I experience the excitement of holidays while living alone?

The answer, my friends, is community.

When Halloween rolled around, I decided I wanted to throw a Halloween party with some other single expat friends who I went to Spanish school with. To get ready for the party, two sweet friends helped me decorate the entire apartment. It was awesome! At least half of those decorations stayed up until December, but hey, progress right?

The first week of December I moved into a new apartment. The owner of the apartment, who lives in the house below it, is very kind and communal. She’ll often ask how I’m doing and even brought me up some food my first week here. My second week living here, she brought up a bunch of Christmas decorations and helped me decorate the apartment.

What a joy to be surrounded with such a thoughtful community.

I’m thankful that this year I’ll actually be able to spend Christmas with my family, but I’m also thankful that I’ve been able to experience the joy of the Christmas season while living alone in the tropics.

What are some of your favorite family holiday traditions? Share below in the comments!


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