Christmas in Cancun

I have always traveled back to the States for Christmas, ever since I moved to Cancun in 2005. That’s 10 Christmases. This year, I will finally be spending my very first Christmas in Cancun.

And guess what? I don’t feel very Christmas-y. Only 2 houses on our street have put up Christmas lights (1 of them is us), for some reason our tree doesn’t smell very pine-y this year, Jorge and I have been too busy to watch many Christmas movies, and it’s just too darn hot to feel like Christmas.

But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been trying to get into the holiday spirit! It is also baby’s first Christmas, and we are excited to see him open presents and go through his stocking. (Funny side story about that stocking: 5 years ago, Jorge had his first Christmas in the States, but he didn’t own a stocking. We ordered him a cute snowman stocking online from Target. When we opened the box… the stocking was considerably larger than we had anticipated! We kept it hidden away all these years, and now since we forgot to buy baby’s stocking in advance, we are rocking the giant stocking once again.)

As always, we set up a Christmas tree (smaller than usual this year). Jorge has always wanted a train around the tree, so we picked up a cute one from Home Depot in early December. My mother is the queen of giftwrapping, and she passed that talent down to my sisters and me. I couldn’t find curling ribbon in Cancun, but the thick ribbon looks pretty festive!

I also went with some friends to a local Cancun Christmas tradition: the Sunset Boat Parade. First I went to the press tweet-up for a sunset yacht ride from the Sunset Admiral Yacht Club & Marina last week…

…then attended the big Sunset Boat Parade event on Sunday night at Jardin del Arte on the lagoon. The Manos Magicas Christmas market was there with lots of local Cancun artisanry, along with live shows. Everyone lined up along the lagoon to watch the boat parade, a flyboarding show and a beautiful fireworks display. It started very, very late, but it was a very cool Cancun-style Christmas event! The water looked amazing.

Last night I baked cookies and watched Christmas specials with some girlfriends, and tonight Jorge and I will be watching our all-time favorite Christmas movie: Home Alone! Then we are having Christmas Eve dinner and lunch on the 25th with my in-laws, and my entire family is coming to Cancun to visit me the week after! The warm weather has me feeling un-Christmas-y this year, but we are surrounded by so much love, family and beauty this year. I thank God for everything.

Happy Holidays to you all, however or wherever you are celebrating!

Christmas and Culture Shock

Hello all! I’m back from good ole Richmond, Virginia, and it was a very Merry Christmas indeed. This was my first time back in Richmond after more than 3 years, and I got to see family and friends I hadn’t seen in forever.

Jorge LOVED the US. He liked the houses, mainly because they “don’t have bars on the windows, like in Mexico”. Very true. I took him to my favorite outdoor mall, and he was a bit overwhelmed but definitely enjoying himself. I have to admit I miss US malls, too… although I did feel bad for the shirtless guy standing in the freezing cold of the Abercrombie and Fitch entrance.

I was excited to be back in my hometown of Richmond! I got to see lots of friends and family I hadn’t seen in over 3 years. Jorge got to see my high school, middle school, elementary school, church and old house.

Everything seemed so much bigger and grander than I remember. In Cancun all the houses are right next to eachother (no side yards, shared walls) and yards are usually just tiny squares of concrete. The bigger houses here have walls around them, and almost all houses here have bars on the windows. In Richmond, the yards were so huge and the houses so much larger than they needed to be that I felt like I was way in the country or something (even though it was just the suburbs). Even houses I used to think were small growing up, today they look immense!

All the shopping centers and restaurants looked so pristine it was overwhelming. Immaculate storefronts were surrounded by massive amounts of parking space. Where were the flimsy taco stands? Where were the family-owned corner stores? Why are there so many SUVs? Who would go to a huge shopping center in the middle of nowhere? (a lot of people, apparently)

The only thing big about Cancun is the potholes.

I was seeing the first stages of reverse culture shock, and I was only there for 3 days. Everything from the cars to the houses, restaurants, movie theaters and malls was just so BIG and PERFECT. It was lovely, but I was glad to get back to the sun and tiny concrete houses of Cancun.

Here are a few pics. The lights are from the James Center in downtown Richmond, and the rest are just family photos taken at my grandparents’ house.

How was your Christmas?

Christmas Questions!

Got this from Ang and Krysten! Enjoy some Christmas questions combined with photos from the posada at our house on Saturday. (Burgers and piñatas… good times!)
1. egg nog or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate. I only had eggnog once and it was good, but nothing beats hot chocolate.

Jorge and the grill

2. does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Neither. The wrapped, under-the-tree presents are from cousins, grandparents, sisters and my parents. Santa fills our stockings and leaves our gifts out in the open for us to see when we go into the living room.
3. multi-colored or white lights on tree/house?
Any Christmas lights are good Christmas lights. (This year I found out Jorge dislikes multi-colored lights. Very disappointing.)
4. do you hang mistletoe? 
Not me or anyone in my family.
5. when do you put up decorations?
Beginning of December.

Thomas manning the grill

6. what is your favorite holiday dish?
My mom’s Christmas breakfast sausage and cheese casserole and venison sliders (thanks Jared!)
7. favorite holiday memory as a child.
Opening presents is always the best part. Not so much the presents, but watching everyone open theirs and laughing with the family.
8. when did you learn the truth about Santa?
What?
9. do you open a gift on Christmas eve?
Only at the occasional family get together with aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

It was a very Merry Christmas for all the guys present

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
Jorge and I don’t have one because we’re never home on Christmas Day, but at my parents’ house it’s usually multi-colored lights and all of our family ornaments. Used to have an angel on top until it was destroyed by tree sap. Now they use a gold star.
11. Snow! Love it or dread it? 
Love. (Then again I don’t have to live in it, so I might be biased.)
12. Can you ice skate?
Barely, but yes.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Probably an iPod classic Santa brought me 5 years ago. I may be the only person left in the world with an iPod classic, but that baby is still going strong! My sister gave me a hand-made photo album years ago that I still have as well. Bottom line, there have been many.

Nothing says "Mexican Christmas" like a miniature deep fryer

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?
Traditions and being with my family.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Chocolate fudge and Lord of the Rings-inspired Christmas cookies (courtesy of me and Sarah)

Me vs. Piñata

16. what is your favorite holiday tradition?
In our family we all open our gifts one at a time, taking turns. Christmas morning lasts hours, and it’s nice to see what everyone gets.

17. what tops your tree?

No tree
18. which do you prefer: giving or receiving?
Both! Right now I’m more excited about seeing my family open their gifts from me, but once the gifts are opened I love playing with my new toys!

My brother-in-law vs Piñata

19. candy canes. yucky or yummy?
YUMMY! Especially traditional peppermint.
20. favorite Christmas show?
We used to watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer every year.
21. saddest Christmas song?
Blue Christmas (Like Ang said) is the only sad one I can think of right now. Jorge thinks Carol of the Bells is very eerie.
22. favorite Christmas song?
All I Want For Christmas Is You (original Mariah Carey version), O Holy Night, Mary Did You Know

Aaaand grown-ups fighting over piñata candy, including Jhonny hitting his girlfriend. Nice, guys.

This will be my last pre-Christmas post because I’m leaving for home TOMORROW! With Jorge! So incredibly excited.

Feliz Navidad to all of my readers. Thanks so much for your love and support.

My Christmas Posada Parties in Cancun

I’ll be straight with you… I’ve lived in Mexico for 6 years and I still don’t know much about what a traditional Mexican posada entails. I know they’re parties held in December, kind of like our Christmas parties in the US, but with more traditional elements like star-shaped piñatas and bowls of ponche to drink. People also go from house-to-house singing a traditional song to pedir posada (or “lodging”, a la Mary and Joseph looking for an inn) until they reach the home of their party host, who lets them in.

And yet, I have seen none of this in Cancun. No ponche, no donkeys, no songs and no star-shaped piñatas for this gringa.

I have, however been to several Cancun posadas in my time. Young people in Cancun just do things a bit differently than the rest of Mexico. Why? Because who needs tradition? Bring on the dancing and the crazy house parties!

Here are some pictures from my first ever Cancun posada at a house party with my univeristy friends, circa December 2008… whoa.

That's my logistics professor in the background!!

Gotta love living in a city where you can wear spaghetti straps outdoors in December.

In 2010, I was a bit more tame and I only went to my office’s posada. It’s nice to see everyone dressed up and out of uniform.

2011 promises to be the best year yet for posadas and me! I’ve been to two already, including yet another work posada. For our first posada of 2011, Jorge and I went to Muellecito bar with a group of his friends from elementary school, then the group headed out to Alebrije nightclub, which I hadn’t been to yet.

Jorge with his friends from elementary school

Screen in back translates "Welcome to Mexico Jesus!!" I like to think they're referring to Jesus Christ and the posadas tradition, but since we're in Mexico it's probably just some guy named Jesus.

Tomorrow night we’re hosting a posada party at our house. Just as with all my other Cancun posadas, it’s looking to be very untraditional with no singing, no donkeys, no piñatas… because apparently our friends want to grill burgers.

BURGERS.

Whatever, that’s how we roll in Cancun.

 

This post is part of a Blog Hop on posadas! Want to read more about Mexican posadas from some of my friends, or add your own posada post to our Blog Hop? Check it out below…

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Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

My Christmas in Charlotte

I went to visit my family in Charlotte, NC for Christmas this year.

To be honest, I was way too busy eating, wrapping presents and hanging out to take many photos, but I did manage to get a few in there!

Massive amounts of presents! and yes, we hang out stockings on the couch. We're crazy like that.

Table set for Christmas breakfast!

Our annual Christmas breakfast... sausage and egg casserole! (with cinnamon rolls and fresh pineapple)

My sister's crazy but adorable kitten, Olive

Avert your eyes, vegetarians! Sarah's boyfriend Jared made some venison burger sliders from a buck he hunted himself.

Venison sliders... surprisingly more flavorful than beef!

Our Christmas day "lunch"... venison sliders, sausage and cheese balls, french onion dip and baked cheese dip.

All the desserts we had for Christmas... chocolate fudge, Christmas cookies, pecan pie and chocolate chip cheesecake (a personal favorite)

The family! (minus Jorge)

Sorry it took so long to post these… had some strange computer/photo/Wordpress issues, but I think we’re back now!

A Cancun Christmas

After today, I won’t be blogging until Monday. You know… Christmas and all that 🙂

Jorge and I got all our Christmas shopping done this weekend. Plaza las Americas was pretty crazy, but nothing compared to US malls the week of Christmas. (I made the mistake of going to the mall on Christmas Eve once when I lived in Virginia… 45 minutes to get out of the parking lot. Never again.)

The weather continues to be in the 70s during the day, and much cooler at night. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed going out in the evenings with jackets and scarves 🙂 It is more challenging for me to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s not freezing outside, though.

I’ve been listening to Christmas music all month. My two favorite kinds of music are Glee songs and Christmas songs, so obviously I’ve been listening to their Christmas album.

Jorge’s family normally doesn’t exchange gifts on Christmas, but this year we decided to do it. I already know what I’m getting from his parents, and I’m pretty excited about it! I just hope his brothers don’t peak inside their gift bags, which are already under my in-laws’ tree.

My company had it’s annual “posada” (the Mexican term for Christmas party) at a resort in the Hotel Zone last week. It was a good night for me… I won employee of the year for my department, and I won a bar mixing set in the raffle!

The English copy editing team at the office Christmas party... Fumiko, Mat, and me!

And last but not least, the long overdue photos of the Christmas lights at our house! I think it turned out nicely! (Except for some of the colored lights not working… oh well.) We’re actually planning on leaving up the lights in the tree for a few more months, just taking down the colored lights after Christmas. I’d like to point out that I fought hard for the last 5 boxes of white Christmas lights at Walmart. I got the evil eye from a few ladies, and I had to dig through about 20 stacks of colored lights… but it was worth it to find them all smushed against the back corner of the shelf.

**Please ignore the crazy dogs in the background**

Merry Christmas!