I’m dreaming of a semi-tropical Christmas

The first Christmas I spent in Bermuda it felt weird.  I got off the plane about 7 days before Christmas, and it was hot.  Hot and sticky.  We were driving on the wrong side and eventually we arrived at my in-laws home.  Now this was my first time in Bermuda and my first Christmas, with the parents of my then boyfriend who I had only met in June.

The first thing I noticed was palm trees with lights instead of the usual pines I’d seen my whole life.  But there where trees to buy at the grocery store, instead of cut your own tree farms.  There was a hustle and bustle in the air and it was nice.

It’s so hard to condense what I came to know for over ten years of my life.  Even after I moved there Bermuda was my Christmas place and America was my Thanksgiving.

Like all other things in Bermuda there was always some kind of event happening.  I have never lived in a city, so it was cool to be somewhere that had tons of different things to do.  There was the boat parade, boats decorated with lights in the harbour.  The first year I lived there we were on a charter boat for the parade and that was a lot of fun.

In years after I spent a spa morning and afternoon of shopping with a friend, there were work Christmas parties, on boats and on land, shopping on Friday nights in Hamilton.  Coopers used to have the neatest Christmas section.  It was magical.

On Christmas Eve we would attend mass or a service at some very old churches.  One Anglican church was shaped like a cross, with a candle light service and ended with singing on the way out into the beautiful full moon light with an old graveyard.

There was a light competition and the homes would be listed in the papers and we used to drive my husbands British grandma around to see them.  I mean we are talking Chevy Chase Christmas Vacation style homes.

On Christmas day we’d open gifts, and enjoy a full English breakfast, buck fizz, fried bread, blood puddings, stewed tomatoes, back bacon, eggs,baked beans, bloody mary’s-the works.  Then before I lived there all year round, I would go for a quick swim in the beautiful ocean, and yes the Bermudians who lived there all year round, thought I was crazy.  I would then call home.

At night my in-laws would have lots of people over for a full English dinner.  They would invite people without family or older people who had no one else to dine with.  It was always a great mix and such fun.  People of all nationalities.  It would be candlelight which to me was huge, because I have never had a candlelight dinner here.  My father in law would make some kind of meat and every vegetable imaginable.  Then we’d have a Christmas pud which my grandmother in law would bring from England, that she made the year before.  The pud would be set on fire and then we’d eat it.  We also had cracker paper hats on from the crackers we’d pop.  It was just magical and I mean magical.  There was always a fire going in the fireplace and I felt so there, so warm and so perfect at that time.

It was a tradition.  It was a traditional Christmas in an untraditional place.  It was something I could count on, something people put a lot of work into.  It was sharing food and fun and laughter.  It was warmth and love to be invited in.

Growing up my parents were divorced and while we had family dinner at my grandmothers, someone was always missing, since my parents were divorced.  I felt bad about having to divide my time.  I always longed for one of those dinners like you see on tv.  For tradition and talking and laughing and just being with people who were not fighting.  Don’t get me wrong I love my family and I missed them dearly but holidays are easier when you have one plan and one place and there it was.  It was beautiful.

Earlier this week I was driving somewhere and I smelled something that took me back to Bermuda, to my mother in laws living room, to Christmas, to the house we sometimes house sat over the Christmas holidays.  I wanted so badly to travel through time and go there and be there and have that Christmas again.  No drama, not dividing time, just an old fashioned Christmas in a warm climate.  I wanted my kids to know that kind of Christmas, to have tradition.  I didn’t want to be the one planning and arranging and taking care like always, I wanted to be the one who just had to show up and be happy and glad and in the Christmas mood.

Sometimes the slightest thing mixed with some stress, makes me long so much for my Bermuda Christmas.  This is the one time of year when I miss Bermuda the most.

However when I was there I missed here and now here I miss there.


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