Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas as a Retiree - Feliz Navidad

Here we are now working on our 2nd Christmas as retirees, and what a difference it makes to your overall participation in the event.

Over the years you do Christmas on autopilot, juggling work, kids, Christmas parties, shopping etc for a month or so hoping you will get through it again.  Once you have retired however Christmas takes on a new direction and meaning as your mind isn't full of all the things that need to be done at work prior to taking your leave.

Once again we arrived back from overseas in December  however we did get 2 weeks in before Christmas this year unlike arriving back only 1 week before like last year, but it didn't really seem to make that much difference.

D1s collection from USA and Canada
We were keen this year to get the Christmas decorations up (the kids had done this for us last year given the timing of our arrival back), although we elected to tone it down a bit this year and not use everything we have.  It was great just to only  use those Christmas decorations we have collected over the last decade on our overseas jaunts on the tree and it is now a lovely collection of items that depict our lives and our travels.  Collecting something like this is fun, but it also gives you something very specific to look for while travelling and they are generally cheap, and easy to pack.  We keep them in the bags that they were given to us in, receipts etc so that when we unpack each year we all as a family have a reminisce about where we got them from, and the funny little stories that many of them hold - so its a nice way to remember fun family times as well.  The kids now also do this while away and are always happy to provide their haul from their personal travel.  Some countries it is hard to get something Christmassy, however here I either buy a bell with the countries name on, or a snow ball that depicts something unique about the place, like my Egyptian snowball which is in the shape of a pyramid with the Spinx inside and gold glitter, very pretty.  Being in an area where Catholicism is the primary religion this year there were no shortages of Nativity scene decorations this year to add to my collection. 

My new haul 
We have so many great little stories on many of the decorations and where we found them etc and this years haul provided a few more funny ones.  When I look for my decorations I am very specific, it must contain the name of where it came from or be a landmark that is easily recognizable.  This year while there was no shortage of Christmas decorations everywhere very few of them had the name of the town, city or country on them and while in Panama I found a decoration which didn't have Panama on it,  when I tried to explain to the man in the shop this and why I didn't want to buy it, he immediately in broken English said his wife is able to put that on.  Here we are thinking she is going to have some beautiful art pen that she will use, but no.  She asks me why do I want her name on it, which I immediately indicated I didn't what her name on it, I want Panama on it, and then she just grabs a pen and scratches it on to the bauble - well I could have done that myself, but it sort of defeats the purpose, anyway, just another funny little story for years to come as we unbox these and remember the story.

As a retiree it is nice to travel internationally in the November/December period as well, it gets you away from the general commercial hype of Christmas - you know the TV ads etc and you begin to experience other cultures way of celebrating through their street decorations, festivities, food etc - so it helps to put your mind on Christmas in a relaxed manner.

Being in Mexico this year was fun especially as we were there for the beginning of their Christmas festivals but generally the whole of this area had begun their Christmas themes through street decoration, and while much is the same as we have, there are those small differences that are both interesting and fun. 

It also helps to inspire you when planning your Christmas meals, given you have just had a taste of an area your mind is able to think outside of the Traditional Christmas meal ideas.  So you guessed it, Mexican is featuring in our lunch this year. We had a trial run with some friends last week and it was delish. 

As we have no small children around as yet and this year it is only going to be 6 of us, I am also toning down the meals.  We generally start on Christmas Eve as I have always enjoyed everyone together early and having a Christmas Eve dinner - we set the airconditioning onto freezing, put the log fire DVD on and sit down to a hot traditional meal.  This year for something different I am going to put on an Italian banquet  for Christmas Eve and then have a cold Christmas Day lunch featuring beautiful fruits, seafood and you guessed it Mexican salsas and meats with Mexican breads. 

Both the Italians/Mediterian and Mexican  foods are fresh, look festive, are hearty and delicious as well as a little less filling than our standard Christmas foods and given it is just adults we can be less traditional at this point.

Of course there will be the standard traditional items like Christmas Yummy Corner, reading The Night Before Christmas, carols softly playing in the background and pudding etc but with a slightly different slant this year.

So Feliz Navidad everyone, NINKERs wish you a Merry Christmas!

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