Monday, December 27, 2010

A Goldilocks' Argentine Christmas

One of the great things about being an intercultural couple is that we can share the best of both worlds, including holiday customs. After years of wavering about how to do it, we took time this year to make a conscious decision to fuse our Christmas/Navidad customs to create our own holiday, from gifts to meals to socializing.

First, we waited until mid December to adorn our Argentine-made tree with the ordinary light strings available here as well as the various special hand-blown and handmade ornaments that I brought from the U.S. (What a kinship I feel at these moments with pioneer women who dragged boxes of crystal and porcelain westward ho to settle California).

Next, we exercised Argentinian restraint in gift buying, with just one present per person, for our very short list. Meanwhile he quickly took to the concept of small token gifts for our stockings, which I had brought and which he had hung by the chimney, with due care. We had fun browsing for a few apt gifts for others on our lists, and he humored me while I bought 15 meters of fancy ribbon at the button
store and real holiday wrapping paper at the stationer's. We let the pet shop wrap the leather bones for Mila and Goldie.

So on Christmas Eve, to the strains of holiday carols (courtesy, we worked like elves. R mastered gift wrapping and ribbon curling, and we soon had a nice display under the tree and stockings bulging with small useful gifts and candies. Later we had some tea and homemade shortbread, the kind I used to leave out for Santa.

On Christmas Day, the best thing for me was the Skype video call with both my children at once, Sara in California and Eric in Massachusetts! In the afternoon, R’s daughter and boyfriend came by to spend some time in the pool and share a toast of “sidra” (sparkling cider) and “pan dulce” (a fruitcake that is actually edible). Oh right, we did open the gifts, and you know, they do take second place to socializing and eating here, as the young Argentines wisely observed.

At day’s end, by candlelight we feasted on an amazingly savory grilled turkey breast with stuffing, cranberry sauce, a Waldorf salad (with palm hearts instead of celery), and a good bottle of Torrontes (an Argentine white wine), savoring the last few hours of the holiday in true Argentine style.

It was all good, very good! In retrospect, I realize that I really did not miss my old excesses: too much time baking and decorating and card sending, too much time shopping for and wrapping too many presents, too much rich food and drink, too much trash and too many bills afterward. It was a Goldilocks’ celebration: not too much, not too little, but just right!

I hope yours was too!
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Beth said...

It sounds like the perfect way to celebrate the holiday, Gayle! We did much the same, a stocking for each other with fun little gifts, yummy breakfast, a hike to see a Santa cactus and enjoy the views of Phoenix, and egg nog and football to end the day.

I'm glad you're able to mesh the two cultures, taking the best of both!

Happy New Year, my friend. Hopefully our paths will cross again soon.

Hugs to you and R.

tangocherie said...

Loved reading your impressions of an Argentine Christmas!

Just one question, or rather two: where did you get the turkey breast to grill and the cranberry sauce?

Best wishes for a very Happy New Year!!


Katie said...

I love the fusion of American and Argentine customs! It sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas together, with the best of both worlds.

Much health, happiness and prosperity for you and yours in 2011!

Andres Paolantonio said...

Gayle, my name is Andres and I'm glad to know you are living in Argentina. I invite you to visit my blog with photos just in case you want to know a little more about buildings and monuments in Buenos Aires.

Best regards, Andres