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Puerto Rico, December 25, 2006

A Puerto Rican Christmas Gift

Skip the presents, go right for the people

the early days
Christmas long past
a transitional period
Christmas just past
Puerto Rican Christmas
Christmas present
How was your Christmas morning? That orgy of American consumerism unparalleled by time or place else. Did you get all the presents you wanted? All the things?

I hope you were with friends and family, people who matter to you. Did you feel their warmth, their love? Could you find it in the stuff exchanged or in the moment shared?

For my family, we've slowly moved from the things to the people. From the stuff to the moment. Starting years ago, and slowly germinating over the many Christmases in between, we've now dropped the shop for the trip.

I have my Dad's death to thank for this.

In 2003, my father died on December 16th which pretty much quashed gift giving that year. Who could be merry in the midst of a funeral? But we could connect, with family long missed, friends forgotten, community in the full sense of that word.

In 2004, Mom and I tried to recreate Christmases past. We knew nothing else and we wanted to find a feeling from the past. A Dad present past. And we failed, of course. That Christmas was different, almost sad in our efforts.

In 2005, we gave up on Christmas, didn't celebrate it much really. We did enjoy shopping, but the day after Christmas, not before. Still, that year felt empty, and emptiness we didn't want to repeat this year.

In 2006, Mom and I took a different path, one we, Mom, Dad, and I had done often in the past, but not recently. Mom and I decided to have Christmas somewhere different, warm, exotic, on vacation.

This year, we've celebrated a Puerto Rican Christmas. No tree, no presents even, just the joys of two weeks on the beach. Two weeks where Christmas seems odd and distant, the always warm Caribbean.

And this year is the best Christmas, the best in many years, by far. No fighting the Christmas shopping hordes. No worries if the present is a surprise or the right size. No need to wrap or return. Just relaxation. Just the beach, the breeze, the joy of Puerto Rican Gold.

This Christmas is a real gift. May your Christmas be one too.

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Hey Wayan, happy Christmas to you and yours. I'm glad you and your mom found a way to celebrate this year - it must be a difficult time of year for both of you.

We had a surprisingly wet Christmas here in Kenya - the rainy season doesn't seem to want to end this year. Being the Englishman I am, this did not stop me firing up the grill and barbecuing the life out of anything that didn't move come lunchtime.

I hope you have a good New year - are you spending it in Puerto Rico? We'll be mooching at home, then we're off on a game safari in the Mara with Hannah's mum and partner (doing it after New Year saves more than a couple of hundred dollars).

Great photo series in this post - have a great New Year...

Thanks, Wayan. Very best wishes to you too (health, success, happiness, and lots of sunshine). Happy holidays, merry Christmas and Happy New Year, although I wanna say happy Christmas and Merry New Year!!!

Me (in rainy VA Beach!).

This Christmas I wanted to do something different. So, I joined others in giving free hugs. Now I am sick on Christmas Day, but I don't have regrets.

A funny photo of me:

Hi Wayan,

I've been keeping up with your blog for a few years now and I really enjoy it, Puerto Rico seems like a great idea for xmas, I think I'll maybe try that next year.

Unfortunately my Dad passed away on the 18th of December and this xmas has not been so great for us, as I'm sure you can relate.

Just thought I'd say hi and enjoy your holiday!

Have fun down there. I spent New Years on Culebra one year. Interesting little town party out by the docks and I got my pic taken with Miss Culebra, but was not too impressed with the island beyond the festival.
Feliz ano nuevo,


It sounds like you had a great time in Puerto Rico for Christmas! Again, I'm living vicariously through you and your experiences...

My family and I enjoyed a quiet Christmas at home in Fort Lauderdale; playing toys with the two boys was the highlight for us. Oh, and the homemade carrot cake wasn't bad either.

Did you see that UCF is the 7th largest school in the nation now? Wow...a lot different than the 90's.

Happy New Year...Love, LisaP

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