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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Christmas moments


Merry Christmas, everyone! And Happy New Year! And Happy Three Kings Day!

For those of you who don’t know what Three Kings Day is (which I’m assuming will be pretty much everyone who doesn’t have much exposure to Catholic culture), it is a celebration of when the three Wisemen brought the baby Jesus gifts in Bethlehem. Thus, here in Spain it is the big gift giving day as opposed to Christmas morning. It is also celebrated today, on January 6th, and marks the end of the Christmas season.  So for anyone who has a hard time giving up the Christmas cheer, don’t worry, you still have one more day to celebrate!

As the last day of the holiday season here in Spain, today seems like a good time to look back over the past five weeks and think a little bit about all the things that have filled and blessed this time…

Christmas lights make life happy.

This past Christmas season has been a very full one – it seemed like every new day held something exciting and joyful. Even if all that hinted at Christmas was the handmade decorations gradually filling the school halls or the festive lights illuminating the streets of Madrid with their many twinkling colors, that made the day more special. 

And then there were so many “big” things that made this Christmas memorable. There was a picnic in the ancient town of Toledo. 

A lovely picnic on a lovely Toledo afternoon 

There was making gingerbread cookies with my roommates Kelsey and Danielle and our friend Ashleigh and giving them away to teachers and coworkers. There was a little bit of a home Hanukkah celebration with a Jewish friend. There were the festive meals at school with all the teachers. There was reading Christmas stories to the students. There was a big Christmas Eve dinner with international friends that included delicious food, group caroling, and even a friend’s adorable little dog. 

There was a wonderful Christmas morning of presents, cinnamon rolls, and mochas with Kels, Danielle, and Ashleigh. There was a whole day of food, games, and more singing when a couple of friends came over for Christmas brunch/lunch/dinner/wow-it’s-almost-bed-time. 
There was an epic run in Retiro Park the morning after Christmas with all the people from the day before, followed by a group outing to see Les Mis (after some showers, of course!). There was a beautiful trip to Sevilla, a quiet New Year’s in Madrid, and to end it all an adventure in Morocco!

Awesome stuffed bread in the making for Christmas Day -
roasted almonds, blackberries, three kinds of cheese...

Of course, there were so many other little moments that filled these weeks with laughter, like introducing two of my tutoring students to their first taste ever of peanut butter. I don’t think I will ever tire of sharing this amazing bit of American culture/cuisine with foreigners because the reactions are always so different. They either grimace and gingerly place their spoon or bread back on the table, or beg for more. These two loved it so much that they started putting it on everything they could think of – peanut butter and ham anyone? Turns out it’s actually pretty good with the strong cured Iberian ham so common here in Spain. Who’d of known?

It’s the moments like that, the moments of sharing food, laughter, and friendship, that have really made this Christmas season a blessed one. There were times when I missed being with my family back home, but the beauty of Skype and getting special packages in the mail helped fill in any lonely nooks and crannies, and my family of friends here filled me to overflowing with joy and gratefulness. So now, today, on the evening of the last day of Christmas, I look back on all the moments that have filled these weeks, and I just have to say, with arms flung wide and a big smile on my face… Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Now go eat some cinnamon rolls!

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