Christmas is here, but I´m not with you

I never thought that I would spend a Christmas so far away from you. The previous times when we had to be separated, I managed to come home and celebrate Christmas with you. But this year it will be different.

What will I miss most about you at this time of the year? Perhaps it will be the perfume you wear that smells like pine, spices and sweets. Or maybe it will be the aroma of one of those delicious dinners that you prepare in order to serve at midnight, with the potato paches and rice tamales.

I think of a strip of chamomile, like those that you can buy in the market in order to decorate your home and I believe I can see you in each piece of the decoration. I remember the cones that we always use to make the centrepiece of our dining table, and the little sheep and houses that we make from cardboard to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus, and every one of them reminds me of you and how they reflect your simplicity and your spontaneity.

I will miss not being with you this December 24 because the truth is that, even though I’ll be the first to admit that you have many problems, in these days you are only a thousand smiles; smiles that come regardless of gifts or money. Presents aren’t everything, and you as well as anyone should know that because you’ve been through much worse than not being able to buy gifts for Christmas and it has taught you that it’s more important to have food to share with your friends and family. Although, there’s no denying that it makes you very happy to see the Christmas trees put up, to make everywhere look pretty with coloured lights or to set off the fabled Christmas fireworks. I confess that many times in the past I complained that I did not like these customs of yours, but the truth is that it will be very strange for it to be midnight on Nochebuena and not to hear the noise of your firecrackers going off everywhere.

It will be sad not to be able to go to all of those posadas that you invent just in order to have a reason to celebrate, or to listen to you play all of those cheesy old Christmas hits on the radio. Truly, I will miss toasting with any other drink that is not your delicious ponche navideno, a drink that only you can give that special touch to.

Those who will be with you this Christmas will certainly be happy to see how magnificent you become during this time of the year. Because, although you don´t have snow, or Santa Claus or gifts under the tree, there´s nothing quite like celebrating Christmas with you, my beloved Guatemala.

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