It's been a week since Christmas, and I already miss it.
Managua is alight with a "winter chill", some extra wind giving us a temporary break from the kind of scorching hot that makes me ache for shade and air conditioning. Colorful trees still stand in every living room I walk into, with a few straggling gifts still sitting unwrapped underneath. And everytime I open the Spotify app on my phone, my "Merry Merry" playlist still calls to me, begging me to play those beautiful Christmas songs a few more times before they retire for another year.
Christmas Day wasn't even over when I sat down to organize all of this year's pictures on my computer. I'm strangely OCD about backing up my photos and can't stand the thought of losing Christmas memories. When I was halfway through, I realized I had seen most of the pictures before—in some other version from some other year.
My brother wearing a Christmas hat of another color. My mom holding up a Secret Santa gift in different wrapping paper. My cousins posing in different clothes behind the same photo booth frame. My grandmother snuggled up in the same chair, wrapped in a different color shawl. My soon-to-be sister hanging Christmas lights on my tree, this time with new ornaments (of my very own, at last). My husband handing out gifts again, this time wearing a cap to conceal his bedhead and lingering hangover.
I dug up all of my Christmas photos from past years, and there they were—remixes of all the same poses, same events, same people. That's when I realized that when I miss Christmas, what I miss are our rituals.
My brother and his fiancee helping us decorate the Christmas tree. A funny gift game on Christmas Eve. Wearing Santa hats. A teary-eyed prayer and grace before dinner. Eating way too much stuffing. Taking candid photos behind the photo booth I made out of wrapping paper. Christmas morning brunch. Opening gifts in our pajamas.
Repeating these rituals each and every year may sound be boring to some, but they're what define the holidays for me. They're what I look forward to the most.
Here's to the new rituals that will begin in 2015.