What Does Christmas Mean to a Two-Year-Old?

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Ho! Ho! Ho! (rishibando)

What does Christmas mean to you?

To me, it isn’t such a big deal.  I am not some Scrooge-like figure who bah-humbugs his way through the holiday season, wishing everyone would just go back to work and stop enjoying themselves, but it has lost some of its lustre.

I think the reasons for this are partly because I now live in Brazil and celebrating Christmas in the 40°C heat just doesn’t remind me of all the wet and cold Christmases past.  It is also due to the fact that I am now self-employed, so I don’t have the shared anticipation of holidays and parties with colleagues.

But what does Christmas mean to my two-year-old son?

The answer to this question is far from clear, although if I had to make a guess it might be something along the lines of ‘ho ho ho’ and long afternoon naps.

A couple of months ago Father Christmas started to make his first appearances in the shopping centres in Curitiba, and so as dutiful parents we took Mr. T along to meet one.  The reaction was pretty much as I expected in that he was fascinated from a distance, but as we got up close to the strange man in a red suit with a big white beard, he just clung on to me for dear life.  He was almost scared to death just being within 10 metres of Santa, nevermind actually going and sitting on his lap.

Coca-Cola Christmas truck. Photo made on Vrede...

“Daddy, ho ho ho, truck, da?” (Wikipedia)

Over the last two months, though, he has seen thousands of images of Santa around the city, in school and now that we have put our decorations up, at home as well.  His name for Santa is ‘Ho ho ho’ and he takes great joy in pointing at him and saying ‘Daddy, ho ho ho, da?’ (‘Da‘ means ‘yes’).  Near where we live there is an old train carriage with an advert of Santa holding a big bottle of Coke and every time we go past it I hear ‘Daddy, pee wee choo choo, ho ho ho, da?’  I love it!

The extra afternoon sleep is due to the fact that the day care school that he used to go to has closed for the holidays and so he gets to sleep after lunch instead of going off to sing songs and play in the Wendy house.  Just like his mother, if left to his own devices he would sleep for hours on end.

I don’t think he has any idea of what is going to happen in a few days when he gets loads of presents for no apparent reason whatsoever.  Being the only grandson on both sides of the family he often gets presents at random times of the year, but not a whole lot of them together and at the same time.  I am pretty sure he’ll remember it for next year though, when the fun really will begin.

My favourite Christmas song: ‘White Wine in the Sun’ by Tim Minchin.

Happy Holidays to everyone who reads this, and to everyone who can’t be bothered as well.

What does Christmas mean to you?  What does it mean to your family?  I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

Ilha do Mel: Curitiba’s Best Beach

Alfredo Andersen - Ilha do Mel

Alfredo Andersen – Ilha do Mel (Wikipedia)

Ok, so it isn’t really Curitiba’s best beach, but that is because Curitiba doesn’t have any beaches seeing as how it is up on a plateau about 1, 000m above sea level.  However, in about an hour’s drive you can be at the beach (assuming you aren’t trying to drive there on a holiday, when it can take 3 times as long) and they all have one thing in common: they are crap.

They are all long and flat without any real charm to them.  The sand is usually packed down so that walking on the beach is like walking on soft concrete.  The water is often dirty, and usually cold and the currents can be very strong.

There is, however, one exception to all of this.

Ilha do Mel (Honey Island) is an island about a 30 minute ferry-boat ride away or an hour and a half from Paranagua.  Most of the island is a nature reserve and the numbers of visitors are restricted to about 4,000.  As soon as you get off the ferry, if not before, all your stress disappears because the way of life here is a lot more relaxed.  The reason for this is, I think, the fact that there are no cars here so everything goes a lot slower.

On the east cost of the island, which faces the Atlantic, the wind is strong and the waves are usually very big.  I’ve been told that this is the best surfing in Paraná although, as a non-surfer, I couldn’t tell if this is true or not.

On the west, more sheltered, side there is practically no current and the waves are very gentle, making it perfect for families.  The view is somewhat spoiled by the huge ships coming into port, but you can ignore them after a few caipirinhas from the beach front bar.

You can walk up a few hills or just lounge around in a bar or on the beach.  There is music in a few places, but never too loud to piss anyone off.  There are boat trips around the island, or to go and find some dolphins.

It almost has everything.

The only thing that is missing is a doctor, so that when your 2-year-old son dislocates his elbow all you can do is beat a hasty retreat back to the mainland.

And that’s when the stress really hits you.