I’ve been a Christmas fugitive for most of my life. For many years I was quite happy to go travelling at this time of year and I’ve spent many Christmases in unusual places and in a very un-christmassy way.
Once I spent the whole day on trains from Austria to Holland. That was a true refugee’s Christmas, watching and meeting other people who have disconnected with tradition.
Having an entrenched routine with your with family at home you can easily forget how many people don’t actually celebrate Christmas at all. However, you’d be mistaken to think that in Non-Christian countries it’s business as usual. My Christmases in Egypt and Thailand, while not being normal, were not completely tinsel free.
But now, after three cold Christmases in a row I’m having saudades for home. For the heat, for the beach, for the sun, for the champagne of Christmas in Sydney. And of course, for my family and friends. Perhaps that’s the purpose of this winter solstice holiday – the deprivation of the cold makes you need the feasting and family hearth.
There are good things about Christmas over here, of course. Snow would be one consolation; Portuguese food traditions like leitão (suckling pig) and all the sweet things are good… and this: I love the christmas lighting in Portuguese tiny towns. Sydney’s bling, trees, santas and sprayed-on-snow never did a thing for me. Maybe because it’s light until 10pm there, and dark at 5pm here that some pretty supplementary light is welcome and charming. Maybe it’s the combination of old buildings and the slightly retro-looking motifs that suck me in. It helps put some cheer in my christmas gloom, anyway.
Most elevating of all are the funky recycled decorations in Figueiro Dos Vinhos. Sometimes recycled art just looks like a pile of rubbish. But someone has put some thought into these. They twinkle, glitter and shine just as they should. Or maybe it’s the spirit of the concept that gives them life.
From my point of view they are giving the finger to the climate change skeptics I’ve been tolerating this week. I realise they are stupid, illogical or simply deranged, but they still get my goat, because it’s my planet that they are advocating we ignore.
And here is this tiny little council, in the middle of an antiquated unfamous country, showing that they are enlightened, proactive and they care. And then it seems to me that the war on skepticism is already won. 😉