Christmas in the Caribbean: Belize

It’s exactly what I want it to be – a spiritual holiday not a swank buying spree. There are no shopping malls and temptations to spend more money than you have – there’s no Bloomingdales here.

Yes there are satellite dishes but usually it’s just the foreigners who own those – the real people live in shacks. But some locals do have satellite dishes next to their sheds.

I live in a house that is a cross between a shack and a bungalow. It’s the most I’ve ever paid for a run down house. $450 per month. The outside is peeling and could use a makeover but the roof is airtight and I have electricity and water. My own bathroom and screens to keep out bugs but that huge mouse I saw last night walking towards me on my front porch scared the shitake out of me. I screamed and told it to stay away.

I hear nibbling at night and rustling. I know its not the iguanas – they live under the house next door.

I was wrong – I saw them meeting up under my house today.

But about Christmas: I have no compulsion to buy here. I saw a stuffed Santa Claus perched on the desk of a dive shop and thought what’s that doing out? It doesn’t compute to have Christmas in the tropics.

But some people have put up lights on their houses and hotels and it makes me happy. Lights are what make the holiday splendid and also cultivating an attitude of love and generosity. That’s it. There’s nothing else to it. No reason to get religious or righteous about it either.

Many years ago in my former life in Palo Alto when I was picking up my 5-year-old son from his friend’s house – the child’s Mom was giving me a tour of her Victorian home.

In her living room I said, “That would be a great place for a Christmas tree,” she imperiously answered, “We don‘t celebrate Christmas.” I didn’t notice she was Jewish. Too bad you can’t put up some lights and have a cocktail – with or without booze. All the other kids in town get to celebrate and your poor (rich) kids have to watch on the sidelines with no tree. And no lights.

She didn’t like me after that since I mentioned Christmas in her presence. That’s what I mean by self-righteous. Maybe I am too the way I am proclaiming we should ditch the malls and go help out some people not as fortunate as us.

Yesterday I bought some lettuce from the mainland – it wasn’t iceberg lettuce thank god; it was sweet and fresh. Grown in Belize but not out here on our sand dab. It was tasty and crunchy – superb. I was so thankful; I hadn’t had a good salad in weeks. It cost what we would pay in the States but it was worth every bite. I now love the farmers who supply our sand dab with fresh produce.
Later on I went to visit an older woman whose husband had died 5 years ago. She rarely leaves her boat that she lives on. It was fun to do rather than just stuff my face with an unending banquet. I did have fried fish for dinner at a local restaurant and felt fat and full. “Gorda” as the Spanish say. Meaning fat.

Another thing to cultivate is appreciation and gratefulness. An underused feeling in the world. It feels good to count your blessings. Roof over head – check. Way to make a living – check. My child is healthy – check. Family in the USA doing OK. Check.

I live in paradise. Check.
Nothing to complain about it.
I’ve noticed complaining takes up energy. It robs me of the moment. All the energy that goes into complaining makes more bad energy and pulls negativity towards us. As a practice I am noticing when I do this so I can stop and choose to cultivate kindness and gratitude.
It’s a practice. Just like learning how to play a saxophone; it takes time.