Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas comes but once a year, Spanish and English traditions, 2009 in pictures and Happy New Year to you all.

Some of my photos of 2009 in a picture collage. I hope 2010 is just as good.
Hello again

Today is Sunday 27th December and the most important days of Christmas are now over. Christmas comes but once a year as the title of this week’s blog says and for me it is always magical and much awaited. And every year I write about it in my blog as you can see here. As ever they were great as a lot of thought and preparations were put in to make them so. But let me tell you first about the run up to Christmas and then how we spent it here at home with the family, somewhat extended this year with the visit of Eladio’s Mother.

Last week on Monday we woke up to quite a big snowfall. It was actually big enough to make us snowbound until mid afternoon, mostly because our drive is so steep. Our plans therefore for Christmas shopping with the “abuelos” (grandparents in Spanish) had to be put off until Wednesday. Being snowbound has its advantages so I spent the morning cooking perushki which are Russian meat pies. Norah of course thoroughly enjoyed the snow which she had never experienced before. You can see a full set of pictures here.
The snow that had us housebound on Monday.

On Tuesday, with the snow mostly gone, I went into work for a meeting and also to receive a friend, Marta Acebo, from our Nokia days who wanted to pick my brains about PR. It was lovely to see her and I hope my input was useful.

Tuesday was also the Spanish Christmas lottery draw known as “El Gordo”. It is one of the biggest Christmas traditions here in Spain and unites people across the country. When I first came to live in Spain I couldn’t understand why people spent money on it and I was cross with Eladio for buying tickets when we earned so little. Now I couldn’t perceive Christmas without buying a ticket or two. However once again we didn’t win a cent.
The El Gordo Christmas lottery, a truly Spanish tradition.
I didn’t win the lottery but I did contribute to my boss winning a poll for the telecoms executive of the year in a publication called El Economista. I spent at least 10 days canvassing for votes and had people working specially on it, including Juan my nephew. We won hands down with more than 11.000 votes. It was an interesting exercise for me which I actually thoroughly enjoyed. You can see the full results of the poll here.

Not only was I canvassing last week, I was also putting the final touches to the last of the many Yoigo Christmas activities, the last being the making and sending of a Christmas gift to our external contacts and partners. This year we made chocolate in the shape of “muñecos” which are a sort of cartoon dolls that we use in advertising. To judge by the comments in emails I got, people loved them. I have one but want to keep it as a sample and just cannot bear the idea of digging my teeth into the lovely chocolate creation. And this is what it looks like:
The Yoigo gift of chocolate we made in the shape of the "muñecos" (cartoon dolls)
On Wednesday I did a good Christmas deed, together with my friend Fatima, when we visited our friend Julio who is convalescing at his parents’ house after having been in hospital because of a duodenal ulcer. I mentioned in my blog last week that today, 27th December, we would be having our annual Christmas dinner at his house. Due to his illness, that has now been postponed until January. We took him some chocolate and a poinsettia plant, so typical in Spain at Christmas. I think we must have cheered him up and hopefully he is now well on the road to recovery.

Wednesday was also the day we took the “abuelos” out for a family lunch (yes all 6 of us). We meant to go to my Father’s favourite, Vips, but it was full and instead we went to Ginos. My Father later told me that Christmas started for him on that day. I’m glad. In the afternoon we all went to El Corte Inglés (Spain’s top department store) to do more Christmas shopping and as an excursion for the abuelos. I think though in the end we tired them out but I know for one my Father enjoyed it immensely. Most of my own Christmas shopping was done with Suzy on odd afternoons in the last 2 weeks and finally our Christmas tree looked like this.
The Christmas tree with all the presents ready for Christmas Day, another truly British tradition.
And on 24th December, Christmas arrived in what is known here as “Nochebuena” (Christmas Eve)here in Spain. Everything was ready including the fillers for the girls’ stockings my Mother had knitted for them when they were children. It is a tradition from my own childhood. The girls put out the stockings and I fill them with all sorts of little wrapped up enticing objects and put them back outside their rooms. Even though they are now in their 20’s the girls insist I carry on the tradition every Christmas. Here you can see the empty stockings hanging on the tall boy outside their rooms waiting to be filled on Christmas Eve.
The girls' stockings, a truly British Christmas tradition and one we love.
Nochebuena is as important in Spain (and many other countries in Europe) as Christmas Day in England and is celebrated with a special dinner with tables groaning with the finest delicacies. In our house we have the best of both worlds and celebrate Christmas with both Spanish and English traditions. Here you can see our Christmas Eve or Nochebuena table for which I had been cooking for 2 whole days.
The family dinner on Christmas Eve, a truly Spanish tradition called Nochebuena.
The next day, Christmas day, evolved as it always has for me and the children and had as much magic as it always has. The highlights are of course the present opening ceremony after breakfast and the midday traditional English Christmas lunch with all the trimmings including crackers. I, at least, was delighted with my presents: charms for my Pandora bracelet, black leather long gloves, pretty ear warmers and wonderful perfumes. Even Norah got a present this year as you can see in this picture.
Norah opening her present - bone and dog biscuits which were very much appreciated, hahaha.
Eladio and I just before we opened the presents on Christmas Day. Eladio is wearing a bow tie which accidentally matched my blouse. He looks great with it on.
The other Christmas photos can be viewed here.

The rest of the time, including Boxing Day was spent lazing around, eating too much plus an enormous amount of chocolate and also watching films we had hired. As I had chosen them I ended up watching them more or less on my own. So what did I hire? Well, Good, Amazing Grace and Miss Austen Regrets, all rather historical and academic but just up my street. Last night though we changed the genre and decided to watch one of the Indian “Elements Trilogy” by the Indian director Deepa Metah called Earth which is about the religious strife associated with the formation of Pakistan when the English finally granted India their home rule and independence. We had previously watched Water, an amazing story of the mistreatment of widows in rural India and may well watch Fire tonight, the last of the trilogy, all very recommendable, especially if you are fascinated by India like we are.

Christmas comes but once a year as I wrote above, but it hasn’t gone yet. For me it doesn’t go until 6th January, Epiphany and also the very much celebrated “Reyes” or Kings’ day when most Spaniards give their presents. My nephew Mario, the son of Pili and Andrés who were with us last weekend, got his Kings’ present early this year, in the shape of a wonderful little Dalmation puppy called Trebol. It’s absolutely adorable as I’m sure you agree when you see this photo.
Trebol, the dalmation puppy Mario got for Christmas.
And it is with Pili and Andrés and the rest of Eladio’s family with whom we will be celebrating New Year’s Eve next week in León. We will in fact be staying at Pili’s (Eladio’s sister) and will be meeting Trebol of course.

And talking about next year, I did 2 great collages of my year in photos thanks to an application in Facebook as you can see here and in the photo illustrating this post.
Another collage of my photos in 2009. Great little application from Facebook.
And on that note I leave you and hope you will all enjoy the rest of Christmas and of course New Year’s Eve. I also wish you all a great 2010. 2009 has been fantastic for us and so I hope 2010 will be another good year. We already have nice trips to look forward to: Brussels for a reunion with Adele and Sandie in February and a week in New York in March. Isn’t life great?

Happy New Year to you all


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