Wednesday, December 18, 2019

El Arbol de Navidad

My days of mass consumerism are over.  I remember back to my life "BC" (before cruising), when I used to spend thousands of dollars on meaningless presents for my kids and loved ones.  I spent angst-filled weeks looking for the perfect present, only to settle for quantity instead of quality because I could never come up with anything truly meaningful or memorable.

All of that stopped cold when we decided we really were going to shed our old lives and take off on a sailboat.  Divesting oneself of possessions collected over a lifetime profoundly reveals how little all of those presents and "things" were really worth, so now that we are back to land life, I've been thinking about what our new Christmas traditions will be going forward.

It's pretty easy to just admire the festivities of our neighbours, Puerto Ricans celebrate Christmas from Thanksgiving to January 14th! But with my daughter coming to visit, I feel like I need to step up my game a bit.  So, I've been thinking of ways to make memorable traditions, while maintaining my abstinence from consumerism.

I guess our departure from the norm has spilled over onto my kids as well!  When I asked Brittney what she expected to do during her Christmas visit to Puerto Rico, COOKIE DAY was her only request!  It was a Proud-Momma-Moment for sure, made even more special when you consider that she has no intention of eating the cookies!  She just wants to spend the time doing things we used to enjoy together!  I'm IN!

But still, there has been a lingering compulsion bouncing around in my brain that I must do at least a little decorating.  I've always loved having a sparkly tree, but didn't really want to buy a traditional cut tree.  I've been eyeing false trees, but nothing seemed right.  But sometimes a plan just falls into my lap... and that's exactly what happened!
Somewhere in this DIFFERENT kind of tree lot... is my little Tintillo!
During a recent outing to Canyon San Cristobal, I learned that there is an indigenous tree that some Puerto Ricans use as their Arbol de Navidad.  It's called Tintillo here in Puerto Rico, and it is the closest thing that resembles the shape of the conifers used in the rest of the world.  While it takes a bit of imagination to see it, I think the tree's horizontal branches promote the comparison by making it good for decorating.  After doing some digging, I learned that the Christmas Tree Lighting tradition was introduced to the Island by Dr. Stahl in 1865, and it is this tree that has been used ever since.

So... with the dual purpose of first, supporting the fine folks at Para la Naturaleza - Habitat AND in the spirit of embracing the traditions of our new Island Home, I bought the little Tintillo tree from their nursery!

THIS little tree will (hopefully, if I don't kill it) become a part of our new Christmas Holiday tradition!  I will decorate it, and use it for years to come!

Yes, it's a bit of a "Charlie Brown" tree, but with a little help from some treasures I found on the beach, it will be beautiful!  I just know it!

So, on to find those beach treasures!

Who knew that we would find the perfect, tiny sand dollars in just a single beach walk!  It was almost too easy!

Plenty with spares!  
Unfortunately, my uncle told me that finding this many small sand dollars, was a sign of some sort of "kill".  Something in the water had done them all in.  Noted.  But their sacrifice will be remembered and appreciated as they adorn our simple little tree.

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