By Suzanne A. Marshall from the November 2011 Edition
It’s just around the corner, although many of us put off the lurking knowledge that we’re going to have a lot to do and we should get started NOW! Of course I’m talking about Christmas and New Year’s events and celebrations. For some of us, Christmas has been greatly simplified, the kids are all grown up, many of us scattered hither and yon, or as we have done, settled far away in a beautiful spot with a tropical climate for the winter. We rely now on Internet face to face communications (like Skype) and send money transfers for the children or order on line from a trustworthy store and hope for the best. Then we move on to year end and a new beginning of another year; a time for both reflection and anticipation.
Looking back over the years I remember many great New
Year’s Eve celebrations. They’ve changed and meandered a lot though I have to admit that our first New Year’s Eve in Manzanillo was one of the most unique and thus one of those occasions that rises to the top of the list of ‘best’ memories. You name it and I’ve probably experienced it.
Office parties, house parties, hotel parties and dances moving on to my ultimate preference, First Night celebrations with loved ones in a downtown city square in -20C temperatures, 40,000 people mingling, celebrating and listening to live bands frozen on stage, gloved fingers playing guitar and base with breaths frozen in mid- air as they sing lively songs and keep the crowd going. Bless their brave little hearts! There are food and drink vendors too so everyone is satisfied. And then at midnight, the bundled up crowds with hyper-active children who are up way past their bedtimes turn faces to the sky and watch the wonders of fireworks flying off towering buildings, over city hall and absolutely stuffing the sky with every imaginable pyrotechnical achievement. This goes on for twenty minutes while we all sing Auld Lang Syne and eventually begin to disburse, heading for our warm homes and anticipate the coming year.
Ok, now we’re in Manzanillo and it’s our very first Christmas and New Year’s here. We’ve arrived two weeks into December so for us, we’ll be happy to find a small turkey and maybe some cranberry sauce but we’re not sure we will. Regardless, we expect a quiet day filled with phone calls a dip in the pool and the oddity of tropical sun and warmth for a change. We have friends who will arrive from Canada a few days after Christmas and know we’ll find a meaningful way to enjoy New Year’s Eve together.
We head for a ‘walk-about’ in the city to see what we can find and to take in the local flavour. There were many surprises in store for us. Not only did we find lovely turkey options, but thanks to what we determined to be a decent size group of retirees from Canada and U.S.A., we find special displays of tinned cranberry sauce and even stove top stuffing!! Thank you for thinking of us!!
As for poultry seasonings it’s on my list to bring from Canada in the following years. Some of the real surprises however were the sight of artificial Christmas trees and holly displayed in the stores, frosty the snow man blow up decorations for home fronts and roof tops, Santa Claus and his reindeer decorations and traditional English carols interspersed with Spanish tunes being played over the store sound systems. I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised by the market influences of North America but frankly I was.
There were even mock fur winter coats, hats and mittens in one children’s section and I was absolutely astonished.
Pondering about who would wear or buy this merchandise, I could only assume that it must be for those that live in Manzanillo year round and want to send off some gifts suitable for winter climates elsewhere. Again, someone was really thinking here.
Our Christmas was absolutely lovely. We enjoyed the stress free time that our distance has given us and our really great dinner. I placed beautiful large poinsettia plants in our flower boxes out on the terrace and that little addition was enough to add a festive flavour. Our friends have arrived from Canada and we got busy roaming about and visiting. Our condo staff have now told us that there will be a lovely poolside party for New Year’s Eve and we are looking forward to dinner out and then meeting our Mexican neighbours and sharing our first Manzanillo New Years’ Eve with all of them. We were not disappointed.
A few days before the New Year festivity is to begin, our staff starts to place tables and chairs on the grass and all around the pool area. We also notice other beachside buildings down the beach making preparations with tented dance floors laid out on the sand. The day before New Year’s Eve, the tables are in full swing. People are dancing and enjoying the annual get together with time to share stories and enjoy the children. As the majority of them come from Guadalajara they have not seen each other of a while. We are seated and ready to enjoy ourselves as well. and chairs are draped with white cloth and lovely red bows brighten the backs of the chairs. There is a theatre style seating area and a table set up in front of them. Men arrive to set up sound systems with huge speakers and the anticipation is now palpable. This is going to be a lot of fun!
of music, singing and laughter wafting down the beach. The night is pitch black, warm and fragrant and at the stroke of midnight a volley of fireworks begins as we all quickly gather at the surf wall and watch an astounding display of fireworks catapulting into the skies over the bay along eight miles of beach and cheering crowds. None of us had ever seen anything quite like it, standing there in the balmy air exchanging hugs and best wishes with our friends and all our neighbours who graciously welcome us to this joyous experience.
We will never forget this new, unique and very very special welcome to New Year’s Eve in Manzanillo with our wonderful Mexican friends.
Suzanne A. Marshall hails from western Canada and has been living the good life in Manzanillo over the past 8 years. She is a wife, mom and grandma. She is retired from executive business management where her writing skills focused on bureaucratic policy, marketing and business newsletters. Now she shares the fun and joy of writing about everyday life experiences in beautiful Manzanillo, Mexico, the country, its people, the places and the events.