Friday, December 26, 2008

A concentrated but beautiful Christmas; childhood stockings and Christmas carols. And so the journey to India began, Namaste my friends.

The family around the table for Christmas lunch
Hello again

Here I am writing on the KLM flight from Amsterdam to Delhi on Boxing Day and we are half way through the 7.15h journey. Eladio has got up to walk around this enormous Boeing 747 that fits nearly 400 people and I am using the time to record our Christmas this year.

As was expected Christmas this year was short but sweet. I had to fit in arrangements both for the festivities and for the trip and there didn’t seem to be enough hours in the days running up to “D day” this morning.

On Christmas Eve, the girls and I sent our 2 men food shopping to keep the household in stock whilst we are away. And the girls and I went out to do our own special food shopping for lovely Christmas fare so’s not to have to cook too much for the Christmas Eve dinner. We went to Mallorca, that exquisite cooked food store and loaded the car with delicious produce such as a white chocolate and raspberry mousse cake or miniature quiches. From there we went to the Corte Inglés (Spain’s best (or only) department store) to get things like cold roast beef or little scallop and prawn pastries, uummm.
Suzy and Oli outside Mallorca with the food parcels for Christmas Eve
I realised the girls were especially aware that we were going away just as Christmas had begun and that they were really going to miss us. Normally they would have been out with their friends and coming and going but on Christmas Eve and Christmas day they stayed close to us all day. I felt really appreciated and very close to them. We enjoyed preparing the meals together and singing carols. I always have the King’s College Choir carols on at Christmas and this year Suzy put them on constantly as if to concentrate Christmas in the 2 days they had of us. I actually got a bit tired of them and Eladio asked if we could change them for the new Enya cd he had bought me!!

The Christmas Eve dinner was as magical as ever. There were improvements in the aesthetics this year as we had bought a new red tablecloth and red under plates. Then of course there was the beautiful new candelabra we had bought from the Christmas market in Stockholm. The table looked breathtaking as you will surely agree.
The Christmas Eve table with the new tablecloth and candelabra
After dinner we played bingo on the new bingo game Julio and Fátima had bought me (yes I like bingo and there’s nothing “common” about it, ha, ha, ha). We played at 2 euros a card and Oli won the first one and Suzy the second. We went to bed early so’s to get up early the next day and enjoy a long Christmas day as well as the last family day together before leaving for India.

Just before we switched off the light, Eladio and I filled the girls’ stockings from “Father Christmas” for them to find outside their rooms the next day. This tradition is now into its 24th year, the age of Susana, my older daughter. The stockings (or long giant socks) were knitted by my Mother when the girls were small. The content is made up of lots of little inexpensive objects designed to add more magic to Christmas as the proper presents are given out after breakfast on Christmas day.
The girls' childhood Christmas stockings
On Christmas day we all get up early and have a special breakfast together with the finest crockery. Then we rush to clear up and make our way as soon as possible to the lounge and all sit round the tree for the present giving ceremony. This year the “crisis” also reached our household. There was a similar amount of presents but there was no “splashing out” like other years but the pleasure was just as great. Present giving was accompanied by carols and a good box of chocolates as tradition in this house dictates.
The family round the tree about to open the presents on Christmas day
As soon as the present “ceremony” was over, we had to get on with preparing the lunch and lunch on Christmas day is always English style, as I experienced as a child in England. That of course is turkey or some sort of “bird”, all the trimmings, Christmas pudding which I managed to burn this year and crackers. I’m afraid the Santa Pola English shop crackers were rather “cheapo” and the gifts a bit pathetic. The best joke this year was: What does one reindeer say to the other? It looks like rain dear!

Meanwhile preparations for India continued. I had to check in online amongst other things and also get a last minute vaccination for tetanus and diphtheria. Eladio ended up giving me the jab, like my own personal doctor. I’ve always said Eladio is multifunctional. He’s my husband, friend, advisor, doctor, plumber, teacher, electrician, gardener, lover and life time companion.
Doctor Eladio
And so after the wonderful lunch, the 4 of us went for the final Christmas walk and then my life time companion and I came home to pack, according to my well prepared list.

We finished just in time for a short and frugal farewell dinner in our lovely dining room where we were joined by Suzy’s boyfriend Gaby. And all too soon we were saying goodbye to the girls, or rather hugging and kissing as if we were parting for a year. The girls were right though, this was to be our longest time away from home; 18 days.

We went to bed for just 3 hours but I hardly slept for the “reiser” fever. This was my Mother’s term for butterflies in your tummy before a journey and is a German phrase she always used.

So the alarm went off at 03.30 on Boxing day as the long awaited day arrived; the day of our trip of a lifetime to India to celebrate our 25 years of happy married life.

The taxi picked us up at 04.15 and drove us swiftly to Barajas where we checked in for our 2 flights, one to Amsterdam and one from the latter to Delhi, the starting point of our Indian adventure.

We had breakfast as the sun was rising at the enormous Schipol airport looking out on one of the runways and all too soon it was time to board the 11.05 KLM flight to Delhi. The flight is packed and we are squashed in tourist class, Eladio’s seat being invaded by a big fat Indian lady. I had to insist she put the armrest down between them! I tried a trick which surely would have worked with a Spanish hostess from Iberia but did not work with the KLM hostess. I let her know this was our 25th wedding anniversary hoping we would be upgraded to business class but all I got was a languid and unemotional “congratulations”. I am looking forward to the Indians being warmer and more enthusiastic.
Eladio about to board the plane for Delhi in Amsterdam.
And so the Indian trip has begun. We have been fed our first curry which was a disappointment but then what can you expect from economy class catering for 400 people?

We look forward tomorrow to the real thing and to “Incredible India” as the Government boasts in its tourist advertising.

Namaste my friends, until my next post.


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