As you remember, the Basque Santa, Olentzero comes like ours on December 25th and this year he didn't disappoint.
Christmas Eve dinner was delectable although quite different from something we would eat on the same day at home. It started off with a salad Joseba and I made - with smoked salmon, raisins, turkey, small sea snakes (called gulas), some goat cheese and nuts. Next came clams which, as always, I passed on and then red peppers stuffed with beef and bechamel. Next were the much-anticipated 'txipirones en su tinta' - which translates to squid in its own ink. While a seafood plate covered in thick black sauce sounds and looks about as far away from appetizing as possible, the actual taste is great. If you could you stomach more, steaks were the next menu item and finally dessert - rice pudding, a lemon and yogurt delight, and chocolates and sweets for days.
When everyone had let thier food settle well, what to our wondering eyes should appear but Olentzero! Joseba's mom, Maixus, had left the table a few minutes before and had come back all dressed up as the coal man himself. She walked in with her shirt stuffed with a pillow which gave her the the slow swaying belly walk that Olentzero sports and over her shoulder she carried a sack, just like the gift giver. One thing a bit off and not so normal that this Olentzero had however was a fluffy white beard. Olentzero here normally has a bit of stubble and a dirty coal-stained face, but he announced that earlier that afternoon he had spoken with Santa Claus and he was supposed to wish me a personal 'Merry Christmas' from him. It seems that along with that message, Santa gave Olentzero his beard too - to make me feel more like Christmas :)
He doled our his presents and then after taking the massive pillow out of his gut joined us for a drink, like Olentzero would surely do! My first Basque Olentzero Christmas was defintiley one to remember. Be it the USA or Basque Country, it's amazing to see how specials moms around the globe make Christmas Day.
Zorionak eta Urte Berri On! (Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year)