Bah humbug Brazil; Fake Crimbo trees, Black Santa’s and 30oC.

“Here babes, look what I’ve put on your iPod for your little stroll today”.

(My wife walks to work every day, its 20 minutes, not by choice mind you. Her pride and joy, her brand new VW Cross fox is in the garage… I said nothing)

“What now my love?

“..More U2 maybe?”

“Ha ha…No!”

“What then… Coldplay?, Editors, Interpol,the “exciting” Damien Rice, or an exclusive Elbow live set recorded in a cave on the isle of man in 1985?.”

“No meu amor, look (pointing)”

“Mmm right, (reading) “The Best Christmas album ever”…Mmm I don’t know Keith”

“It’s cool babe, it starts with BandAid’s; “Do they its know its Christmas”, then “Walking in the air”, by Allad Jones, followed by Cliff Richard’s “Mistletoe and Wine” etc etc..very Christmassy, this is what we listen to all the time in Ireland, you’ll  love it!

“I don’t know babes, its 28 degrees outside”.

I was broken out of my fairytale Christmas moment, like the angel and her ass being ripped off the top of the tree. I was in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and indeed it was already hot, we had just had breakfast on the balcony, and she was on her way out the door wearing Haviana flip-flops and shorts. I kissed her and said goodbye , she put on her sunglasses and left.

“Fine, don’t listen to it then” I said.. to myself.

It’s funny isn’t it really, we don’t like to be cold, humans I mean, generally speaking, I don’t know many people who are very fond of it anyway, my wife is allergic to it, she wears socks to bed in the summer…here in Brazil I mean.

But it’s the only time of year, that we want it to be the cold, isn’t it?, we want -10, we want ice and snow, we want to wake up on Christmas morning look out our bedroom windows and see snow flakes slowly descending down on the recently formed layer of white, we want to put on the newly bought hat, scarves, and gloves (as you can’t remember where last years are), go outside and have snowball fights, we want to pour water on the paths so it can freeze and you can slide up and down it with your mates, and hopefully Mrs. Hume from next door doesn’t slip on her ass as she carries her turkey back from the butchers. We want to kick off the snow from our shoes before we walk into the house, and on entering, give that customary reaction: “Burrrrrrrr, its freezing out”, and then shiver the shakes off from head to toe.

But, then we want to be inside, slouched on the sofa, stuffing our faces with the non-ending turkey and stuffing sandwiches, the Christmas hat barely hanging on to your head, the top button of the trousers opened,  watching “Die Hard” again, while helping your nephew build the Transformer Lego set. But all this has to be done while the snow trickles down outside, no blizzard like, that would be too much, and could prevent the quick exit should a family fight break out, we want it to be just perfect. And then at 12 midnight, we want it to stop!. Because Christmas is officially over, and we don’t need the snow anymore. Now we want a crisp morning with sun because at this stage we definitely need to get out and away from the family. Or ideally you are sneaking away to the Gran Canaries for a quick tan top-up,well then in this case, you want it to remain freezing at home and be a nice 30 degrees on the beach.. screw everyone else! ;o)

Well here in Belo or BH (Belo Horizonte) Brazil, the odds are that we will never see any snow here, because it’s hot 365 days a year. But even still, they love Christmas!, the streets are lit up with flashing lights and decorations, shop windows are lathered with fake snow and telling everybody to “Feliz Natal”, they have specific Christmas shops with some of the most impressive decorations I have ever seen. They have Jesus, his mum and Joseph for sale in every size possible from 5 cm high to life-size! They have the Coca-cola Christmas truck with a Santa sleigh parading through the city every night. Liberty Park is impressively adorned including a 5 meter talking Santa Claus, but there is not only…Oh oh oh noo!, there are various Santa models throughout the park in various poses, some standing up, some sitting down on park benches,all waiting to be photographed with the hundreds of kids that visit the park every day, one is with his wife Mrs. Claus, which was a rather surprise for me, I have never seen her make a public appearance before…she is good shape. Or if you fancy a more tropical Christmas flare you can visit the local shopping centre where a black Santa is sharing joy and laughter and good fortune with everyone while being led around arm in arm not by one, but by two of the hottest looking Elves I have ever seen!. It seems here in Brazil, Santa can have two little private helpers all for himself!

So as you can see apart from the weather it sounds kind of the same, People are in good spirits, there is an atmosphere of happiness around, but there are a few little differences. For example, on the night of the 24th, they will have their Christmas dinner and then after they will exchange gifts, the 25th, they will have a big lunch, but generally that is that, as a lot of people go on holiday then, as the it’s the end of the school year for the kids, they finished the first week in December and they will return the 1st week in February, so the majority of them hit the beaches for 3 weeks!.

But one thing that is unique and is shared by everyone whether you live in tropical Brazil or icy Ireland, and its this; each and every one of us loves getting presents put in our hand, whether we are 5 or 75, it something that never changes. What a great thing  no?, that someone special to you has gone out of their way, rattled their minds for weeks on end thinking of the perfect gift, hunted various shops and then carefully wrapped it and placed a little bow on top. What a great great feeling that is. Some of us actually prefer to give presents, like me for example (yeah right whatever), but seriously, I love watching their faces waiting to see their reaction, praying to dear god, sweating and eating your knuckles that they don’t have it already, and if not, that they actually like it, and then you see their eyes lit up, and a  rush of pride runs through you, and you can finally smile, and you realise you did ok,  there is a point in time when everyone is child again, and its Christmas time.

What will your present be?, I already got mine believe it or not, it came a little bit earlier, on December 4th, when my then girlfriend said “I do” and become my wife, that was the best present I could have gotten, that will do me just fine…

although… if she does have any…small …little..other  surprises like:

-Set of  Haruki Murakami books I was luring over on purpose.

-Rayban sunglasses I love so much that I will badly need for honeymoon in Bahia, or I’ll go blind.

– Or/and that little place  I said would be ideal for a bar…

….I wouldn’t say no.

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone. Give lots of presents!, and you’ll get lots back!.

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