Friday, 17 December 2010

Do they know it's Christmas?

I am beginning to feel as if someone is cheating me out of a proper Christmas this year. Actually I was fine about the good weather until I realised that it just doesn't feel like Christmas or even December for that matter. Three years ago DD2 arrived three weeks before Christmas as an early and wonderful present for us all and since then we have always begun our festive season the day afterwards, putting up the tree and singing carols and so on. Here however Christmas decorations seem to be few and far between, which probably has something to do with the fact that it's summer. The days are so long that there is hardly time to switch on and admire lights as the sky glows even as I write with red and yellow sunsets well after sundown. In the supermarket the Christmas section is a small rectangular area next to the buckets and spades. Out and about one sees the odd fake tree adorning windows with a few baubles and sometimes some tinsel, but nothing on the scale of what one remembers back in the northern hemisphere. Although we haven't yet got a tree (partly because our decorations are still in storage and are thus inaccessible until we have somewhere to move into) we have tried to get into the spirit of things but with limited success. The children are busy colouring in the numbered stars on their Advent calendars which we printed off from the computer. We are still listening to carols even though it feels incongruous with the climatic conditions outside. Last week we even saw a rather hot-looking Father Christmas in full traditional costume posing for photos with children under the huge (fake) tree based at the busy marketplace of Estacion Central. We had been wondering if the Chilean version of Father Christmas might be clad in lighter gear but apparently not: the same kindly old man with a white beard and dressed for a harsh winter smiles down, his image omnipresent in the bigger and better-organised shopping malls. If anything what is most notable is that like many other areas of life Christmas in Chile has been directly imported from the USA, albeit without the glitz. Last Sunday one of the major department stores organised a festive parade down the Alameda, Santiago's main thoroughfare, to herald the last couple of weeks before Christmas. Like everyone else we went along to jostle for a fleeting glimpse of what was promised to be an amazing spectacle. After a long wait in blazing sunshine we were treated to a series of inflatable characters making their way down the street, including Father Christmas, King Kong, Godzilla, Popeye, a Smurf, Spongebob and Elmo from Sesame Street. Oh, and a turkey in Thanksgiving garb. At least those were the ones we recognised... Didn't matter to the girls though, they loved it.

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