THE CHRISTMAS EVE THAT I REMEMBER
January 3, 2012 Leave a comment
December in Argentina is quite hot, especially because only three days before Christmas, the summer begins.
I remember that in this time of the year, the routine was repeated, year after year, no doubt. The 24th, my sisters and I used to arrive early at my grandmother’s house to help her preparing everything for the big night. Few hours later my cousins arrived and we all waited quiet and anxious for the clock to give the 12 to go and get our presents under the Christmas tree, the one that I helped decorating, very exciting, some days before Christmas.
Of course, there were no big chimneys, no elk, or deer… not even big decorations; but what was always there, no doubt, was the whole family: adults, elderly and children. Everyone, together, gathered around a large table (that as the years passed it seemed to me that it was getting smaller, although it was always the same). I remember that everyone was happy, expectantly, as if that time of the year was special, something magic. As the time passed by, I realized that, maybe, that feeling with which adults expected Christmas, with which they prepared everything and with which they waited the family reunion, that excitement, was produced because every Christmas Eve reminded them the ones that they lived in their childhood, when Christmas is more a magic story than a Christian holiday. It is the shearing, the enjoying, the excitement, the laughs, the mourn, the meetings with old friends who live far away… it is that feeling of being together and discovering the good and valuable things we have in this life.
As a child, I used to get increasingly anxious with each passing minute and I was constantly watching the clock… the eleven o’clock, half past eleven, quarter to twelve, ten to twelve… it was almost the moment…. From there my eyes focused on the sky and, with my sisters and cousins, we looked for an old man in the dark, with a red costume and a big white beard, carrying a big red bag with cars, dolls, bicycles, balls and toys, coming from unimaginable places… But it always happened the same, in some distraction, Santa Clause landed who knows where his sleds, and left the presents under the Christmas tree, with name and surname so nobody confuse the packages. Everyone received gifts, adults and children… Even grandparents!
As an adult, I choose Buenos Aires to celebrate this holiday with my family, although now is smaller than 25 years ago. Visiting Buenos Aires before Christmas is having thousands of unimaginable ways of expressing the same feelings.
From late November and early December begins the preparations to make the city look like a huge Christmas tree, where the shops invite you to a fantasy and illusion trip, with their storefronts decorated, waiting for Christmas.
The streets are not far behind. It worth getting lost along the most important Avenues as Santa Fe, Callao, Corrientes or the 9th July Avenue itself, or around the small streets of traditional neighborhoods as San Telmo, Palermo, Belgrano, Recoleta, la Boca or the city center, where the colours of Santa Clause paint everything they touch.
Besides the Obelisk that decorated or not is the main Christmas tree of the city, hundreds of other trees are lighted every night, either by its owners themselves or by some institution which celebrates Christmas that way.
That’s why, even it isn’t exist the snow of New York, the elk of Montreal or the camels and kings of Middle East, this city gets unforgettable during this part of the year. Impossible to be ignored.
Buenos Aires allows us to dream again, as when we were kids. Where the possibility of crossing just around the corner the elusive Santa Claus was something that could certainly happened to us.
María Noelia Bonvin