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Bridget Gleeson Travel Writer

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Holiday nostalgia

Another holiday, another cake, another desperate attempt to carry on our family traditions far from home.

In past years, I’ve spent nearly every Christmas and Thanksgiving and Fourth of July in a foreign country. It used to be that I didn’t care about missing out on reindeer ornaments and roasted turkey. It even seemed refreshing to step outside of convention – watching fireworks and drinking champagne during Christmas in Argentina, toasting a costume-free Halloween at the corner pub in Prague, watching a three-fingered man play guitar on Thanksgiving night in Nicaragua.

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But lately – as I get older – it occurs to me that I might never fully return to the conventions of my all-American upbringing. These holidays conjure up some nostalgia for the past. And so it suddenly seems more important to hold onto some elements of my family’s holiday traditions.

Last year, case in point, I let my chocolate Easter eggs melt under an umbrella on a Brazilian beach. I didn’t really notice the holiday. But yesterday, when we celebrated Easter in Buenos Aires, it was a different story. That’s partly because there’s a new member of the family. My sister’s daughter, Luisa, is almost five months old. She was born in Argentina and she’s one of those lucky children who will grow up knowing both English and Spanish. But so far, she’s never been to the United States, and my sister and I were practically tripping over each other as we tried to make her first Easter Sunday similar to those of our own childhood. I slaved over a coconut cake shaped like an Easter bunny – those aren’t as easy to make as they look, because the eyes look half-demonic when you try to build them out of candy – and my sister made the Easter baskets. There were hard-boiled eggs, pastries, music, baby photo ops in the sunshine.

Ok, so there wasn’t a church service, and there weren’t plastic Easter eggs hanging from the trees in the front yard (a Pennsylvania thing?) There were also a couple of Spanish-speaking men in attendance who didn’t even know what Easter baskets were before yesterday. But all in all, it was a fair cross-cultural compromise.

Luisa, welcome to the future, where the Easter bunny cake is frosted with dulce de leche and you’re more likely to hear Gustavo Cerati than Billie Holiday on a Sunday morning. I always thought this family needed a little cultural diversity.

Felices pascuas desde Buenos Aires! (A day late – very fitting.)