In Ireland, it’s the 21st of December, shortest day of the year and feast day of St Thomas, a date Nan loves for its promise of longer light and better weather, heralding hope for the future.
This year, our world is upside down, everything’s different.
It`s definitely not our year’s shortest day, nor is it officially St Thomas’ Day as his feast day was changed years ago
Our weather’s new, as we awake to a southern hemisphere summer; blessed with bright twenty-three degree sunshine.
We walk Peña, to`Los Bolivianos’ on Billinghurst, for breakfast fruit. Strolling in flip-flops and shorts is not our usual start to Christmas week.
Normally, we`re up to our oxters in pantomimes, pageants and purchasing. Rushing round crowded Christmassy streets, packing presents for family and friends.
There is little street or shop decoration here, except an odd metal outline of Christmas trees, draped in lights ,placed in public parks where people sunbathe, lying in their shade.
The Bolivian fruit shop is not decorated; they’re busily organising incoming deliveries of perfect produce. Often they’ll chat, if they`re not watching soap-operas on the small TV overhead but their Monday morning routine is demanding.
There’s a queue outside in the sunshine, there always is. The shop is tiny, packed so full of fresh fruit, there’s no room for people.
Unlike Christmas week queues at home, this fruit queue disperses quickly yet, as we wait, I think how different this year is.
Perhaps choosing this routine-less, topsy turvy life for a while gives us a new perspective and an opportunity to pause and reflect on our lives: what`s worth holding on to, what to give up.
After breakfast of ripe cherries, strawberries and mangos, we`ll pack for our flight. It’ll be easy, we have very little to bring. Everything we have here fits comfortably into three simple back packs.
Later tonight, we’ll seek out Christmas and go to Plaza de Mayo to enjoy a friend`s choir in the beautiful Jesuit church, Buenos Aires’ oldest and favourite of Pope Francis while Bishop here.
Brid Treasa and Sr Karol will be proud of our attempts to capture the magic of Christmas through classic choral works by Tomas L. de Victoria, Di Lasso and Sweelinck. What better way to, as Dickens tells us, ‘honour Christmas in our hearts` then through music?
Tonight`s concert marks the end of our BA stint as we look forward with hope to our three and a half hour flight to Tierra del Fuego on St Stephen’s Day.
In Ushuaia, we`ll enjoy more long days and great weather with 5am sunrises and 10pm sunsets giving us 17 hours of daylight and plenty of time and space to open our eyes and explore.