Just after lunch, we exchanged presents. The joy at giving and receiving presents was evident in the expressions of joy, gratitude and love apparent on all our faces. I felt very much at home as my family and I embraced each other and exchanged jokes late into the afternoon.
That evening I walked with my aunt to the beach to watch the sunset. As the brilliant sun shrank along the horizon, I realized my Brazilian Christmas was coming to an end. I was raised in a place where Christmas means snow on the ground, the smell of pine trees, cloves and cinnamon, the taste of hot chocolate and candy canes, the sounds of Christmas music and prayers, and the feeling of warm blanket around my shoulders.
This holiday season was like nothing I have ever experienced. However, by the end of the day I realized that Christmas is whatever we want it to be and whatever we make of it. It was, as I said, a VERY sandy Christmas.
Grace Livermore is a Cooperstown Rotary exchange student.