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A year and a day ago, the Argentine family in whose posada we were staying invited us to join them for Christmas dinner. For us Englanders, there was a twist: the dinner was held not on Christmas Day, but – in traditional Argentine fashion – late on Christmas Eve. Midnight was greeted with cheers, present-opening and the crackle of fireworks across the Chilecito sky, as the dinner rolled on into the wee small hours of the morning. December 25 was uneventful; by nightfall, the city was more or less back to normal.

Much like the Argentines, it seems the Mexicans aren’t much for deferred gratification. The family that runs the B&B where we’re currently staying were kind enough to invite us to their Christmas dinner, which began last night at 10pm. For them, as apparently for many Mexican families, the Christmas Eve feast is the main festive event, and December 25 is merely the morning after. Later today, we’re cycling up to the hilltop archaeological site of Monte Albán, which – like all the city’s civic-owned sights and museums – is open on Christmas Day. Then, after dark, we’re taking in a concert and meeting a couple of new friends for drinks, before heading back to pack up as we prepare to continue our journey north tomorrow morning.

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Home, if we can still call it that, never feels quite as far away as it does at Christmas. It’s now three years since we had something approaching a normal December – this year in Mexico, last year in the Argentine desert, 2012 in the Homerton Hospital (Will as a three-week in-patient, Ruth as a twice-daily visitor) – and we miss seeing the year draw to a close in London: the crisp air, the lights and the fires, the little customs and traditions that were once embedded in our annual routines. (January, of course, is another matter.) Twelve months from now, we’ll be glad to reacquaint ourselves with the English festive season. In the meantime, though, from the middle of Mexico, have yourselves a merry little Christmas and a happy new year.

from Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico