Christmas in Manzanillo

2011 December 2011 Suzanne A. Marshall

By Suzanne A. Marshall  from the December 2011 Edition

Well I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I have learned to treasure moments and days one at a time because I know how fortunate I am to live each one of them and am also aware that the future is now and I will not live forever. When you’re young you cannot be here as it usually takes a large piece of a lifetime to achieve this frame of mind. There is no exact formula for when this occurs and everyone who arrives at this place has done so in each their own way. And so it follows that festivities like Christmas need no longer be in a specific location or be celebrated in a certain way. I will enjoy whatever life is providing and be so much more aware of what’s going on around me.

Now, I enjoy the excitement of hoards of children anticipating Santa Claus while looking at toys in the stores and I watch mom or dad take notice of what captures the most attention.

Manzanillo is filled with young families and beautiful little children who seem to go with mom and dad everywhere. I anticipate the beautiful music and carols that I’ve heard all my life and indeed sung so many times with choirs and family (though now I’m hearing many of them in Spanish).

It’s the most wonderful comforting feeling in spite of the fact that my parents are now gone, and the family nucleus shrinks. It’s the familiarity and wonderful memories that give so much comfort.

My children have moved to faraway places and I suppose it could be a sad thing to some but I know they are happy and well and making their own memories. And in this day and age there are so many communication tools that bridge the gaps of geographic challenges. This year I will speak to my kids and extended family, face-to-face via Internet tools and enjoy seeing the expression and body language that goes with heartfelt wishes and so much love. It really is like almost being there!

Christmas in Manzanillo is definitely different considering the palm trees, tropical weather and gorgeous beaches. But yes, it’s still Christmas for me, even though wildly different. Children are still excited about Santa’s arrival, you even see him on the odd rooftop. They must be amazed at the long journey he takes from the North Pole; friends and family still get together, attend services, enjoy special food and meals and most of all it does seem to bring people together in an indescribable way whether they are families or strangers. I think I have become somewhat of a voyeur and I’m ‘ lovin’ it!

Recently, I met a new friend from Mexico who dreams of experiencing a real ‘white’ Christmas. And of course Christmas in Canada can be spellbindingly beautiful on a sunny crisp day with a new blanket of snow and a fire crackling in a nearby fireplace. And of course this is very familiar to me having spent my entire life there. But isn’t that just the way life is? Longing for new experiences and seeing for yourself what is portrayed in postcards, movies, television and stories. And yet, no matter where you are the most important feeling is the sharing and the memories that you have made or are busy making. I can just imagine the lifetime memory many of our visitors to Manzanillo will have who are staying at one of the fabulous resorts and have come from other countries. It’ll probably feel a bit weird but special none the less. They will also be the envy of those left behind in some cold climate!!

So I spoke with one of my Mexican neighbors about the way in which they will celebrate Christmas. They live in Guadalajara and retreat to Manzanillo at every opportunity. Of course

Mexico is a very ‘catholic’ based population and beautiful cathedrals and shrines are to be found anywhere you go. Thus Christmas being the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ is a huge holiday and time for family. From what I gather, minus the snow and cold weather, things are very similar. Families, friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles gather for special meals, Santa leaves gifts for the children and the celebration of a Catholic mass is attended by the devoted. Some of the traditional food is different but apparently many do like to roast turkeys as well. The stores everywhere are packed with special goodies and toys and the entire population is a beehive of activity. Poinsettias can be seen everywhere and as is becoming my new tradition I will purchase several and place them in the terrace planter along with the vines, bougainvillea and other assorted flowers. We plan to roast a little turkey complete with all the trimmings and sit back and enjoy all the memories we’ve made and of course count our blessings.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas. Many of you will travel home for the occasion and others will be celebrating much like ourselves. Enjoy the season and we will see many of you in the New Year!


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