Holiday Season in Belize
A Moment of Reflection & Gratitude
My family and I recently celebrated 8 months of being expats here in Caye Caulker, Belize and with the Full Moon/Total Lunar Eclipse that recently ushered in the end of Eclipse Season, I find myself in this beautiful state of reflection of our time here with thoughts I’d love to share with my community.
As we are all entering the holiday season, I've come to the realization that this is the first time since my husband and I met that we are being offered an incredible opportunity (one we’ve been waiting years for in fact) to tap into intentions we’d set for ourselves and our family from a sincere place of freedom.
You see, I really don’t know when it happened for CB but I know that for me, the holiday season while in The States was becoming really stressful. It was no longer what it had once been as a child which was a time for cheerful anticipation for family gatherings, bomb food and lots of gifts. The holiday season instead had morphed into this very stressful, capitalistic rat rate where now as parents we were beginning to feel the pressure of needing to buy, buy, buy. In fact, I was beginning to develop a nervous reaction to the mere thought of Thanksgiving and Christmas because the older I got, the more contrived I felt like that both holidays had become.
Let me put it like this:
My issue with Thanksgiving in America was that I was being wrapped up into a tradition of spending loads of hard-earned money on "low-vibrational" food that we rarely ever eat, witnessing the dire fatigue of the person who’d volunteered to cook but after preparing all of the dishes was too tired to properly enjoy it, navigating strange feelings about being around family members I hadn’t seen in years to being utterly confused about the fact that on this one day out of the year, we were supposed to express gratitude for the things we have?!
I’m not sure about other households but gratitude is expressed daily with us.
There are very few days that pass without us recognizing our profound appreciation to God, the Ancestors and all things divine & aligned that have brought each of us to where we now are. So the idea of relegating an expression of gratitude on a day that has little to nothing to do with African-Americans or more specifically, The Browns, caused me to grow less excited about it and more apathetic about celebrating it.
Additionally, autumn is a season that marks the beginning of what should be an extremely transformative time, inviting deeply healing moments for introspection, solitude and reflection; rather, I’d become so conditioned to running around like a chicken with its head cut off to gather as much food as we could, get decorations for the house, buy the Christmas Tree, gifts for the boys, etc, which left very little time/space to do the very thing(s) that the season called for. In my opinion, capitalism had us in a chokehold and was forcing us yet again to neglect our own needs in the name of doing it “for family” or “for (a somewhat outdated) tradition”.
Don’t get me wrong though, I used to love the holiday season.
Growing up, watching my mother make a big ass Thanksgiving spread (again, not realizing how damn tired she must have been being a single mother with two kids), reconnecting with our family in ATL, watching the Macy’s Day parade…trust me…as a November baby, I was all for it. But something really shifted when I became a parent as I was noticing this new pressure I found myself under to host our “first Thanksgiving” and decorate our new home and buy an abundance of toys which would only peak our kids' interest for a few months (if we were lucky) . I found myself really beginning to question these traditions and ponder on why…after ALL of the pressure women and mothers find themselves under on a daily basis, we would subject ourselves to even more pressure in the name of a holiday that truly as nothing to do with us. Additionally, certainly along my spiritual journey and my subsequent divergence from the indoctrinations of Christianity, as one can imagine, my relationship with Christmas delineated pretty significantly as well.
I say this all to say that among the number of profound ways that living in Belize has changed our lives, being here for the holiday season is turning out to be precisely what I didn’t know I needed.
There’s no stress.
There’s no pressure.
There’s no Black Friday craze.
There’s no rush to put up exuberant Christmas decorations.
There’s instead simplicity.
There’s peace and there’s a sense of effervescent joy.
My first experience with noticing these profound differences was the evening of Halloween. We hadn’t bought the boys costumes but luckily had packed some masks/capes that were gifted to us prior to our departure for Belize so Josiah threw them on and wore his Spiderman shirt, Isaiah demonstrated a complete lack of interest in wearing a costume lol so we set off to experience what it was like trick-or-treating on the island.
& what we discovered was mind-blowing, to say the least.
Unlike in the States where trick-or-treating is relegated to the suburbs under the very careful watch of a parent and/or designated chaperone, it felt like the entire island had conspired to give the island children a Halloween they’d never forget. A list of participating homes/businesses was put together and promoted on the island Facebook group, so parents knew where to take their kids beforehand. We had even mapped out a route so our babies could take full advantage of the offerings but it turned out that the vast majority of places on the island, many of which hadn’t been on the list, decided to participate. From the grocery stores, to local hotels, to schools to individuals’ homes, everyone had a little something to offer both the kids and the parents. The main streets were lined with golf carts with people toting their children around and the streets were filled with both kids and adults who’d dressed up to contribute to this celebration. At no point did I ever feel weary of what was being given to my kids, at no point did I question whether or not I could trust anyone who’d offered anything to my children and all around, I can really only explain it as a feeling of true safety not just for the boys but for us as their parents, too.
Although Thanksgiving isn’t really celebrated here in Belize, there were small hints of it as kids in the primary schools designed turkey hats and the locals prepared their version of Thanksgiving Day plates for the expats. The expats found their way into each other’s homes to enjoy some of the holiday, each bringing a dish or a drink to share.
The festivities lasted only a few short hours before most headed to one of the local bars to enjoy the rest of the evening and that was it. Simple. Sweet & straight to the point. No back-breaking food preparation. No awkward moments around family members, no stress-inducing questions about our plans as a family (i.e. having another child, etc.), no nothing! Just joy.
As we prepare for Christmas which we expect to be an island-wide celebration given that the primary religion here is Catholicism, I feel little to no pressure in getting a tree, putting up decorations, purchasing more gifts than my children need or any of the other “traditions” that center around a holiday that we as a family no longer observe. I love that for us. I really do.
…because the intention that CB and I had set when we first got married and reaffirmed when we became a family was that no matter how differently we both may have been brought up, we would always and in all ways, live our lives together on our terms.
…and finally, after all these years with traditions we'd each uniquely diverged from, we really get that chance; to show up for ourselves, for each other and for our children.
In the exact way(s) that we want.