Despite super-bright sunshine, we are at last beginning to feel rather Christmassy in our house. We dug out the Christmas trimmings from the store room and although the tree doesn't go in the lounge as there's no room - it looks nice and friendly at the top of the stairs in the children's den. We've received rather more cards than I sent...but I unexpectedly sold out of all the Christmas cards I'd made! Thank you Alan for stocking them in your shop!
We've done all but a little of our Christmas shopping and tomorrow, we're going to finish that off, combining it with a trip to the beach in Malaga. The weather is so delightful, it seems a shame not to make the most of it.
We have an evil-looking but sweet-smelling concoction in a saucepan on top of the wood-burner - a mixture of fresh rosemary, orange peel, cardamon, cloves, nutmeg and mixed spice - so there's a background ambience of Christmas which is particularly lovely as you walk down the stairs first thing in the morning.
I finished making chocolates and have only a few left - just enough for us to enjoy some ourselves. We have a traditionally Spanish menu for Christmas Eve, or Noche Buena, which is the main family meal here in Spain, not one on Christmas Day. We will have some homemade pumpkin soup, smoked salmon (though we shall probably get some prawns too) and then leg of lamb. I have CRACKERS!! And on Christmas Day, when we are forecast to get snow, about which Ruy and Romy are delighted, we have a lovely stuffed turkey breast ready to cook, prepared for me by an expat ex-butcher. Oh, and my mum's carefully saved Christmas cake. I think we'll be OK....and may have to go for many long walks to avoid being too slobby. Fortunately, we won't just slump in front of the television all day - we have access to the internet but no live TV - so we may choose to watch a favourite film but not much more as I am planning some games. I have to - it's a family tradition. My mum created some great ones over the years. Actually, the games will wait until Boxing Day, when my friend is coming over with her two daughters. Her husband is working on the olive harvest this year and has only Christmas Day and New Year's Day off in three months - unless, of course, the weather is bad and then no one works. It's too dangerous to take the tractors to the muddy olive groves - especially as most of them are on ridiculously steep inclines.
The fact that the harvest always happens at this time of year makes a big difference to how Christmas is celebrated...if it's celebrated much at all. Most of my students are 'underwhelmed' and I haven't been able to find a single one who feels excited at the approach of Christmas Day. Traditionally, gifts are brought by the Three Kings on 6th January, and as it's usually the thought of presents that gets children excited, then the 24th is just a family meal night for most and nothing more. A few have succumbed to the pressure of Santa's presence and presents but not that many - and fewer for those families still in the grip of 'la crisis'.
I was most pleasantly surprised this week. I have only been teaching at my new academy since the end of October or the beginning of November and only for one afternoon, but I was presented with a lovely basket of goodies by Melanie and Jose as a thank you. I was really touched!
All in all, I am feeling very mellow as we get into the holiday spirit - and, as I have sung this song with almost all my classes over and over again, I've chosen to include a slightly different version of it here:
The Twelve Days of Christmas...plus some!
Have a great one.