Saturday, December 26, 2015

Santa's a Criminal and a Stalker; or, Traditions on This Rock

We started the holiday season as usual by dragging our feet before dragging the decorations out. Boy 2 complained about not wanting to put up a tree. However, a few boxes of ornaments came out of storage, and he got into the spirit. Heck, even Rodney got in on the holiday fun.

And doesn't he look handsome? I'm thinking about making hats for all holidays. Rodney in a green bowler for St. Patrick's Day, Rodney in a bonnet for Easter---the possibilities are endless.

We are celebrating our 4th Christmas here, so we've had experiences that have become traditions. We always go to the parade, which is small and quaint and always a hit. (Or in some cases, we get hit). Boy 2 wanted to sit this one out because he wanted candy. That's my boy, motivated by sugar! This was the best parade yet, with lots of groups on island represented. There were floats pulled by trucks, trucks decorated, and lots of improvising with what you get here (Remember: you get what you get, and you don't throw a fit). My favorite float was from IOM, or the International Organization for Migration, which was a float of Cuban migrants entitled "The Migrant Express." It definitely made me smile. Unfortunately, my camera battery died before the parade started, so you'll just have to trust me that it was very creative. The happy Cuban migrants waving and saying, "Merrrry Chrrriiiistmas, everybody!" in thick accents made it even that much better.

And how appropriate that our refugees get to participate in a holiday parade which celebrates the birth of a Son of refugees.

One thing that unfortunately hasn't changed is the mail service. It is still slow, unreliable, and packages often come in looking like they've been dragged behind a truck, run over a few times, and taped back together.

I was a little sad this summer when our then-9 year old blurted out, "Mom, there is no Santa, right?" Instead of confirming his info, I questioned him. "Exactly why do you think this?" He said, "I have 2 reasons, actually. First, he is supposedly a man who goes in your house to put toys under the tree. That's basically breaking and entering. Second, 'he sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake'---that means he's a stalker, and that's just creepy." I couldn't help but laugh. And not believing in Santa does make our lives easier when we have to explain why the presents haven't shown up---the presents we ordered before Thanksgiving, BTW. It's just part of life for living overseas and using the military postal service. 

The packages are drifting in, and at this rate, we will get to celebrate Christmas through Epiphany. 

We told Boy 2 last year that if we were here another year, we would put up a special GTMO tree. Honestly, I never dreamed we'd be here for yet ANOTHER GTMO Christmas, but it's Year 4 and here we are. A GTMO tree has to match the location, and our new one does perfectly. 

Confession: It is really difficult to get into the holiday spirit when it's hotter than seven Hells outside. I am weary of eternal summer. I'm tired of sweat, I'm tired of muggy heat, and I'm really, really tired of the never-ending hordes of mosquitoes and no-seeums.  I dream of a white Christmas, and if not a white one, one that requires coats and hats and gloves and best of all, scarves. I will one day have these things again, but in the land of eternal summer, we get shorts, flip-flops, and lots and lots of DEET. 

But instead of feeling sorry for myself, I spent 3 nights non-stop with friends. It was lovely. Whether it's a poker game, a night-before-Christmas meal, or a Christmas day feast, celebrating GTMO-style means you are never short of friends who make you feel a little less homesick and a whole lot more loved.  They helped make our GTMO house our (temporary) home, and we are eternally grateful for the wonderful friendships we've made here. 

With that---Merry Day-After-Christmas from Fantasy Island/Hotel California/Gilligan's Island/La Isla Bonita!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Here and Now; or, Magic Trees and Other Oddities

November is what I like to call "no-school November." Between Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, parent conferences, and report card prep day (yes, we get one of those), there is only one 5-day week the entire month. The constant interruptions and lack of continuity make it difficult to complete anything at work. It appears that writing the blog is one of those difficult things, too.

So here I am, December and I haven't written anything in weeks. Oops.

Dreams of transfers dance in my head this holiday season. Transfer season is upon us, and I am still dreaming large, and after last year's fiasco, facing the reality that I cannot do anything else to make a transfer happen. There is a limited number of moves in the budget, and if I am lucky enough to get one, great. However, it is not a given. I'm trying to make peace with the fact that we don't have an end date here, and I need to focus on the present instead of constantly planning for the future.

This has always been one of my biggest faults; at 14, instead of thinking about high school, I was planning out my college path. At 19, instead of focusing on college life, I was planning out a career, marriage, kids, a house, etc. (I know, I know. What was I thinking!!!) If it is responsible and mature to plan ahead when you are a teen, it is not so much at the cost of missing out on most of your teen years because you are too busy trying to grow up.

So now, at almost 46 years old, I am trying to live more in the present and enjoy La Isla Bonita instead of planning for The Next Big Thing.

With that, here are some pictures to show the here-and-now in GTMO.

(Warning: it's a little ridiculous. And strange. And awesome). 

I can't grow plants in my front yard because the banana rats eat them.
However, the banyan tree they live in is growing plants---and they won't eat them.
Look closely. . . 
There's a cactus growing in a knot of the tree. 
The ground cover that the banana rats mowed through
when I planted it on the front walkway
is now growing in the tree where said banana rats live. . . 

After a five-week closure, McDonalds is open.
The Bad: The signs say, "Sold Out." They are out of all beef products. Seriously.
The Good: McDonalds is bad for you anyway. . .

Cell phone, GTMO style. The Good: it's free, and the reception never drops.
The Bad: Won't fit in your GTMO special (but they are everywhere).

Coming soon: Christmas #4, GTMO style!