Friday, December 4, 2009

Ye Olde Christmas Crap

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas around here due in no small part to yours truly who feels personally responsible for creating Hallmark memories for our wee ones. I've been thinking about it a lot and I realize that as I've gotten older I've become kind of grinchy about the holidays. I've never been one to get caught up in the holiday fervor. Don't get me wrong - I've always loved the parties, gift-giving and gathering around the holiday table with family for a fabulous meal, but I've kind of let my childhood nostalgia and joy fade. Until now. Being away from family and friends has turned this ex-pat into a carol-humming, tree-buying (more on that later), house-decorating Christmas fool. I even bought more than $20 worth of traditional holiday songs off iTunes just to make sure everyone (Kyle) gets in the spirit. Brodie's faves are Burl Ives' Rudolph and Frank Sinatra's Santa Claus is coming to Town. In the States it's impossible to avoid the commercialization of Christmas, everything is wrapped in tinsel and the message to buy, buy, buy is everywhere. In Spain, it's much more subtle - here you would only know Christmas is approaching because of the lights the city has put up around town and in the plazas. After doing some research I learned that the Plaza Mayor had already opened up its annual Christmas market so that's what we did last night. It was beautiful, but boy was I ever disappointed by the selection of wares. I was expecting hand-crafted ornaments and creches, but instead found new plastic, tacky junk from China that was made to look old. This is what I like to call Ye Olde Christmas crap. Needless to say, that was a blow to the ol' Christmas cheer, but we recovered when we saw the carousel and live trees for sale. We settled on a tiny one (about 3 feet) but it's real. Being talked into the tree was especially funny. The guy told us that he would pack it up so it could be carried home like an umbrella. Well, I took this to mean that it would be tightly wound and then some kind of sling would be attached. What he meant was that he would put it in a bag and then Kyle could carry it home against his shoulder AS IF it were an umbrella. Watching Kyle carry that thing home was fun-ny, but he kept his sense of humor. Anyway, it's a long weekend so we're driving to Bilbao tomorrow for three nights. I'm looking forward to the Guggenheim and enjoying some Basque cuisine. Everyone have a great weekend! And Happy Birthday, Mom!

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