I never could have imagined this time last year that we would be so busy during our first Christmas Season here in Boquete. For the last thirty years my holidays have been so cram-packed with getting all my clients hair ready for all their holiday travels and parties and special events that I never had a ton of time or energy to think of too much else. I always managed to get our big Christmas tree up and decorated on the weekend after Thanksgiving, and I always enjoyed that all through the month. This year we don’t have any of our own belongings here yet so we opted to forego any Christmas decorating at our house. We’ve never been big on buying each other a lot of gifts and sending things to the States is not especially cost effective so the money we would normally spend on gifts we’ve decided to contribute to local causes. There are so many great organizations here and it’s deeply rewarding to feel as though we’re doing something worthwhile to help people who really have ‘need’ of so much. I must admit that this form of giving makes me feel so happy. I always wished I had more time and resources to help those who really need it ,and this year I get to do that.
We’re attending several holiday events that I’m really excited about. Tonight(Sunday) we’re going to a White Elephant gift exchange at some friends house. Christmas Eve day we’re going to a holiday party, A Christmas Eve Fiesta , this is a benefit for an organization called Buenos Vecinos. This is a non-profit that supports needy families in our community. There will be a band and lots of games like horse shoes and corn hole and lots of good food! I saw the words…”Bacon Wrapped Filet” and I knew it would be my kind of gathering! We’re looking forward to it. We get to spend Christmas Day with our good friends who were actually the first friends we made when we visited on one of our scouting trips. It’ll be a nice relaxing time, we never tire of spending time with them and I’m so glad to spend our first Christmas at their home.
But I have to say , by far, the thing I’m most looking forward to doing is a wonderful event that my friend Lynn is organizing for the families in a small village that’s located near her jungle lodge, Rambala. She collects donations and with the help of her grounds keeper Javier, and other good friends, she purchases Toys for the children and bags of food for all the families. Last year was the first year that they did this and she loved it so much that she’s been able to organize it again this year. I’m so happy that she invited me to help her distribute the gifts tomorrow (monday). Yesterday, (sat) she had a bunch of good friends over to her house to help wrap the gifts. She says that the kids just love to receive a present that’s wrapped so it was quite a wrapping extravaganza! We even wrapped hoola-hoops, believe it or not! I’ll tell you more about this after I go with her on Monday. I’m sure I’ll have lot’s of photos of lot’s of happy little kids! Doing this with Lynn is something I’m just so overjoyed to be able to do. And it’s not something I would ever have had the time to do, if not for moving to this wonderful place full of so many caring and giving people, not to mention having time to do it! Gotta love retirement! 🙂
This year, our first Christmas in Panama will be extremely different than anything we’ve ever experienced in the past. Already, the entire month of December has felt sort of strange in so many ways, mostly due to the tropical climate and the lack of the amount of Commercialism that typically bombards us in the states this time of year. Not that the Panamanians don’t participate in their fair share of materialism (to a much lesser degree ), but I think the fact that we’re a bit isolated from shopping malls and all the traffic, crowds and the crazy hustle and bustle that comes with Christmas, it just feels much different to me. And obviously being so far away from our family makes it feel a bit un-festive. We’re in the midst of beginning new traditions….
(a few hours later) We just got home from the White Elephant party at Manzar & Terry’s house! I had so much fun!! So much laughing… and I ended up scoring a great scarf!! Sadly, I probably ruined my future chocolate purchasing because I made the lady (Debra) who makes beautiful hand made chocolates, take my plungers and I stole her scarf! Ha! All in good fun, but we shall see, next time I go to the Tuesday market… she may ban me from her wonderful chocolates!! 🙂 I met more great people and just really enjoyed the evening. I may also have caused a neighborhood rivalry over a lamp…I really had fun egging everyone on to steal Robins lamp from her , and in the end someone did take it!! Woops!! I was just messing with her, but I think she got to take it home anyhow, the lady who took it from her was also just joking and gave it to her in the end! Everyone left happy and I think, (for me anyways), feeling a bit more in the Christmas Spirit. Manzar & Terry have certainly created a wonderful space in their home ( Casa De Montaña) for hosting gatherings and they are such generous and fun hosts with the mosts! Each time I go to their house I walk away with a big smile on my face and a few more friends.
So far, our first Holiday Season here in Boquete, Panama has been full of so much Cheer! Everything is new and different to us and we’re missing our friends and family but at the same time feeling more and more at home and a part of this wonderful new community. I hope you too have many festive gatherings and that your smiling a lot and enjoying the people around you. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Feliz Navidad! Cheers!