Christmas. It has been the latest entry to add to my list of grumbles about my life as an expat in Buenos Aires. Christmas (to me) means cold weather, twinkling decoration lights hanging from each street corner and lamp, cheesy Christmas tunes blurring out of every shop front, crap Christmas films on the TV schedule and most importantly the food and the booze. Pink Champagne, mulled wine, turkey, stuffing, brussel sprouts, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, pigs in blankets, Christmas pudding and brandy.
Apart from the odd bit of sad looking tinsel hanging from the rafters, a viewing of Home Alone 3 (not even the original goddamnit!) and ONE Christmas song on the radio on Christmas eve, a Christmas in Buenos Aires involved none of my ‘What Christmas Means’ list.
It was hot and sweaty for starters; and I know many people will be thinking ‘oh, how nice, I could do with a bit of sun right now!’ but this was just unpleasant, you know, that kind of hot when your eyelids sweat even at 12 o’clock at night…which is another thing. They celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve here rather than Christmas Day. I know it’s a tradition for many Latin cultures and probably for the best considering it was a whole 2 degree cooler at night than in the day, but I still can’t get my head around it. The music is Argentine folklore, old school cumbia and even the national Anthem thrown in because why not. Where the heck is ‘All I want for Christmas’ and ‘White Christmas’?
And the food…pah! You would think in the the heat they would go for lighter options, cooling for the body…but no. Just stodgy cold cuts of meat like matambre, thick creamy (cold sauces), heavy potato salad and deviled eggs. If you are going to be stuffing yourself with all that I don’t get why they don’t just prepare a real hearty turkey dinner and be done with it? At least the wine is good. That is something that Argentina does do well, thank goodness, so let it drown my bah humbug sorrow’s.
Of all the things that I miss about Christmas at home, nothing could beat watching my husband dress up as Father Christmas to surprise the little people after midnight. With a HO HO HO and red jolly (somewhat strained) face he burst into the scene with bundles of gifts at the ready. The absolute wonder and joy spread across every child face was worth missing out on all those things I know and love about Christmas and maybe one day, this will be my kind of Christmas too….but with bread sauce on the side please.