Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An American Trapped in Spain at Christmas

This holiday season marks the 4th outside of the USA and now my second in Basque Country (first two were Belgium and Scotland).  And, this year, since we have our own house and all, I decided to try and bring a little American Christmas spirit to our Basquey house.  I had mentioned to Joseba that I would be decorating the house on Monday, as I had a day off from work and he didn't.  The Basques don't decorate to the nines like we Americans do, so I think he was a bit curious as to what he would come home to.

As I was decorating the house I started to question how I could have went 4 years without sprucing my apartments up for the holidays.  How could it be possible, me the super Christmas lover, to have went so much time without all that Christmas cheer?  And then I got to thinking about other things that I have become accustomed to here that don't phase me much anymore but would give some of you a good laugh if you witnessed me do them.  On the expat website I look at from time to time, I found a list called 'You know you've lived in Spain when...' and here are a few of the funny ones that I known I relate to:
 - You think not giving everyone dos besos (two kisses) when you first see them is rude.
 - You answer your phone by saying 'Si?' - aka 'Yes?'.  None of that 'hello' business here.
 - You don't even consider having a dryer and instead hang your clothes out on the line.
 - You can't imagine eating a meal without bread.  How will the food get to your mouth?!
 - You say goodbye atleast a dozen times before actually leaving anywhere.  This one I can't stand!
 - You know someone named Jesus, María Jesus, María José and Angel.
 - You forget to say please when you ask for something.  It's implied in your tone right?

Eventhough, maybe yes, I am turning into a local, I still can't imagine a Christmas without the following: a tree (numero uno without a doubt), Christmas carols and Christmas sweets.  So, I decided to get back to my roots on Monday and that I did.  I started out with the tree search.  Here cutting down your own Christmas tree is something from 'the American movies' and is not done.  Maybe if you're lucky you can find one at the grocery store, but it's going to be quite mangey, so I did a very disrespectable thing in my home state, I bought a fake one.  And never have I been so delighted to have a plastic, non-fir smelling tree in my home.  Next were lights and balls.  I had this amazing idea when I started travelling to buy a Christmas ornament from each country I had been to so that one day they would decorate my tree and I could tell my kids and grandkids about all my crazy travels when I was young.  Great idea in thought, but all of those ornaments are in a box in the US now and I am here.  So, the China Store (basically a dollar store run by Chinese people) came to the rescue with some simple but pretty red balls and a couple golden stars and random ornaments.  The strangest thing about the Chinese purchases were the lights.  Normally a strand of lights is what you expect when you  buy Christmas lights, but these ones, maybe its a Euro thing or maybe its because they were so cheap, are essentially a circle of lights.  There is no end or beginning and so putting them on the tree was a challenge to say the least.

With the tree 'trimmed' I moved onto the little decorations around the house.  I bought a bit of decorative tree streamers (I don't know what they are called) to sit on our bookshelves and offset the golden pinecones and red and glittery ornament candles I bought.  The Christmas cards that have arrived went up on the door with a ribbon and the poinzetta flower on the dining room table.  My friend Cassie just sent me a box with an adorable advent calendar where you move a little candy-cane up the tree, changing ornaments each day until Christmas, so that is prominently on the wall and Joseba laughs each morning as I switch the candycane's spot.  And with two presents wrapped and sitting until the tree, I decided to move on to the baking part of my Christmas festivities.

I am planning on making sugar cookies to decorate all holiday-like next weekend but just couldn't let this day pass without some delicious smell coming from the oven, so decided on banana muffins with a touch of Christmas colored sprinkles to top them off (thanks again Cassie!).

When Joseba came home he immediatley smelled the muffins a-baking and was also quite shocked to see the tree.  Turns out, he, knowing my affinity for Christmas, had just bought one at a shop next door.  What a sweetheart.  He added some of the ornaments he'd bought to the already decorated tree and then we enjoyed a muffin to ring in the holiday season.

So, no matter how long I stay here, my Christmas is always going to maintain quite a bit of Americanness.  Heck, who knows, maybe next year I'll even try my luck at a gingerbread house!  I hope all of your Decembers are off to a jolly start too. 


1 comment:

Cassie said...

Everything looks great! You're more decorated than I am right now :) XOXO