The holidays in my home away from home

By Brooke Hisrich — When one thinks of the holiday season and the Christmas spirit, snow, holiday jingles, red and green decorations and St. Nicholas are filling the frigid air. It couldn’t be more different during the month of December in the Southern Hemisphere.

I spent the first few weeks traveling southern Argentina, appreciating some of the largest glaciers of the world and viewing penguins and sea lions in their natural habitat. I can fortunately say it was one of the best trips I have ever taken with some of the best people I have ever known. I arrived back to my host city, Bolivar, on December 15th, and to my surprise it was nearly 95 degrees. I was too busy swimming and sunbathing to count down the days for Christmas.

Argentina does not make Christmas as big of a hurrah as we do in the United States. Their festive trees are normally small enough to set on a table, there are no holiday songs playing on the radio and there is an extreme lack of red and green. There truthfully wasn’t a single reminder that Christmas was near until the day just snuck up on me! Fortunately, I had thought to buy my host family a few gifts before the day arrived.

Before I knew it, Christmas Eve was here. The day was treated normally until around 10 o’clock that night. My host family and I went to my host grandparents’ house to eat our Christmas dinner. At midnight everyone exchanges gifts and cheers with a glass of champagne. The gifts are not quite as abundant, it is normally one gift from each relative including your parents. Around 2 a.m. the adolescents of the city head off to the night clubs for a full night of drinking and dancing; I couldn’t believe that clubbing would be a Christmas tradition! I arrived home around 6 a.m. on Christmas morning, slept until three in the afternoon and by then Christmas had come and gone.

I enjoyed experiencing a Christmas in the heat, with different traditions and different people but I did miss the spirit that we have at home. I realized we might spend a little bit too much… okay a lot more than necessary, every holiday season but there is a certain feeling that the season brings in Ohio that can’t be replicated down south.

[Updated Aug. 7, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]