“I won't be here, I'm going to the sun for Christmas.” I practiced the words for about 3 days before I finally faced my parents with the truth. What is it about the Christmas season anyway that instills a compulsory requirement to embrace the sentiments of a season all about gifting, eating and drinking ourselves into a state of imbibement coma?
I had visions of the “you have to be different!” outbursts and the glistening nostalgic stare which reminded me of the fact that “none of us are getting any younger and hopefully we'll all be here next year.”
The decision came after 18 months post breakup, myself and a friend, who, coming from a very similar situation and mindset, decided it was a time for: “to hell with sentiment, let's go have the craic!” So that is exactly what we plan to do.
13 years ago, I visited Puerto Del Carmen for the first time. albeit AFTER the Christmas holidays with my former partner and our 10 year old son. The pavements were in the process of being replaced throughout the resort as the old ones were like glass and completely detrimental, as we had found out to our peril within the first 2 hours of being there. Our son slipped and slid around the main strip, falling at least 6 times as he took in the vision and aroma of the camels on the Journey of the Kings, who proceeded to pelt him with sweets every time he lost his balance.
Once we learned to negotiate the dangers and risks of strolling along the strip, my son, to this day, still bursts into songs which were created around the variety of images and experiences we felt along the way. Namely: “first I was afraid, I was Chester Fried.” or “Don't forget your wallet, get your wallet, Wally” or indeed; “Frosty the Summer Man.“.. you had to be there.. but suffice it to say, the mixture of sun, sea and soaring January temperatures, did nothing to maintain anything sensible about our natures.
There is definitely something that feels like home away from home for anyone that visits Lanzarote. Perhaps you want me to reveal a location so overwhelmingly remote and untouched by human hand that it hasn't even been named yet. Well apologies, you won't find it here. What you will find is a completely family orientated destination where the owners of tiny Italian Pizza shops, will embrace your children as if they were there own Grandchildren and actively encourage them to educate their palates to tastes and flavours they wouldn't even dream of trying at home.
We marvelled at the crickets at night, we ate gellato for breakfast, the thoughts of what it would be like to live through 360 days per year sunshine and he learned to swim even with glasses on.. we came home refreshed, revived and feeling slightly rebellious as he had been allowed an extra week out of school due to a hospital appointment at Christmas and his Father's hectic work schedule. But as with all travel experiences, wiser to the diversity and alternatives that exist outside of our conditioning.
I'm hoping this year, the experience won't let me down.. my buddy and I need this trip. Life can be tough at times, throwing experiences at you like certain careless airline pilots land aeroplanes onto runways.. you know those economical airlines I'm talking about. ;) but.. when it comes to sentiment.. I hope I won't become nostalgic for those days and not embrace this chance of a new beginning, somehow wrapped in a blanket of familiarity that Lanzarote never ceases to provide, with some well deserved surprises on the way and new stories and songs to sing.
As for telling my mother? It went something like this:
Me: “I won't be here, I'm going to the sun for Christmas.”
Mother: “Oooohhhh lovely! You're right too!.. I'm going to your Uncle's!”
I guess it's true what they say.. change comes to everyone.