Tomorrow evening we go to England - the children and I.
New Year with my family.
We are excited.
Christmas has been wonderful - 'quiet' is the wrong word as mis suegros, my in-laws, are lively people. They talk incessantly, to each other, to everyone else, to themselves and always with the television or the radio on - loudly because mi suegro, also mi padrino (godfather) is rather deaf.
And when we're not all talking, we're laughing.Or shouting.
No, our Christmas has not been quiet - it's been fun. Remarkably relaxed and easy-going too - we haven't dressed up or worried for a moment about what to eat or when. Or at least I haven't - it's a Spanish tradition to consider what to eat at all times of the day. In Amelia's house, when she's at home and in charge, it often drives me nuts to be asked on arising - que vamos a comer hoy? - what are we going to eat today? Before I've even had breakfast! But here, where I'm 'in charge' (ha!), I know what there is and what I'm going to make - more or less - and I also know that Amelia will do or make just what she likes too because they arrived from Valladolid with the car packed with food.
So we always have plenty to eat. And I thank them for their generosity in providing us with so much.
I have loved my tree in the corner and I've loved the sunshine we've had every single day. I've loved playing Beetle and Scrabble and Pictionary with the children. I've loved going for long walks with Cesar and Darwin - up to La Mota and looking out over Alcala la Real to the Sierra Nevada. (And pinching myself to make sure I'm not dreaming!) Yes, I've loved my Andalucian Christmas.
But it's been most interesting to note how little it's changed the rhythm of life around us. With the exception of Christmas Day itself, most of our neighbours have been up and off to the olive groves in their tractors, land rovers or any other type of sturdy vehicle as this is harvest time. And with clear bright days, not a moment can be lost because at any moment, the rain could come and put an end to the collecting. Most of the olive groves are on steep hillsides and if the weather is damp or wet, the ground becomes a dangerous, cloying mudbath where neither foot nor tractor can maintain a grip. So to work, to work.
Things I've missed...I have missed the festive spirit that I shared with so many friends when we lived in England. The meals with office friends, mince pies, christmas crackers, cards from friends and neighbours - carols and singing. Here, we have had very little build up other than the streets around being beautifully lit and La Mota sporting a very fetching star. The children were at school until Friday - and of course, the sunshine has been deceptive all along. The children were quite stunned to realise it really was Christmas Eve the day after they finished school.
I guess I did miss the build up to a certain extent - I enjoy the anticipation of events - though I appreciated the lack of the usual huge commercial push.
I will remember in future years to maybe put my tree up a tad earlier; to dig out my Kings College Carols CD from the barn in Leon; to make some mince pies and send more cards. That should do it.
Yes, there are always ways to do things better but I have so enjoyed our 'stumble-though' Christmas this year.
And now, I can get really excited about having a family get together English-style as we've decided to have a second Christmas 'day' instead of - or as well as - New Year's Eve. And more silly games - my mother is an expert at preparing games for us all and I love playing. And singing - we might not attempt Messiah this year but as William has got a new piano for Christmas, I'm sure we can persuade him to play for us. Can't wait. Must go pack!!
Wishing everyone a Very Happy New Year. I think we may expect quite a lot of change in 2012 - I do so hope we all get our priorities right about what change is made.