Well, all the family shopping and the food shopping is done. The base of the trifle is soaking nicely in sweet sherry, the pumpkin and the sweet potato (recent additions to my Xmas menu since Guy lived in the US) are puréed and ready to mix, the breadcrumbs and the chestnuts are ready to make stuffing. Tomorrow I will be elbow deep in all sorts of disgusting stuff which will, I hope, end up tasting ok the following day!
Is this the most patient dog in the world, or what?!
The church square in Los Cristianos two nights ago, with the nativity scene (belén) on the right.
When we wondered about how Christmas would be before emigrating we thought about the stories we’d heard from Australia about barbeques on the beach and Christmas morning swims, but in truth that doesn’t happen here much. For one thing, although it’s a heck of a lot warmer than England, it’s still winter, and the weather can be unpredictable. For another thing, because Spaniards celebrate on Christmas Eve, what the English know as Christmas Day is kind of just another bank holiday. People go to the beach if the weather’s ok, but the beaches are not anything out of the ordinary, and are mainly for tourists or resident “furriners” in wintertime. So we fell into the habit of celebrating Christmas more-or-less in the traditional English way, as so many ex-pats do, and that meant ordering turkey, which was almost unheard of here back then, specially from the butcher, instead of scooping it from the supermarket shelf, as I now do. Almost everything else came over in someone or other’s suitcase………perish THAT thought now with weight restrictions, not to mention security! ……. can you believe up to 1997 we used to bring boxes of crackers even! Luton 1997 was the first time they were taken off me! It was kind of fun doing things that way, though, I must say.
So the food’s a doddle now, what with the big English supermarket in Las Chafiras, which was hotting up something awful by 10am this morning. Phew, thank god that’s all done! Christmas shopping this year was a bit blah. At a glance, it can be pretty much the same as anywhere, shiny stores like El Corté Ingles in Santa Cruz, and shopping malls like the Carrefour and El Campo ones in the North are the places to go these days. None of those existed when we arrived, and Xmas shopping used to begin on my annual summer trip to the UK, just in case I couldn’t get back again before the big day. In more recent years one of the delights of Christmas was strolling along Avendia Juan XXlll in Los Cristianos, which was full of interesting shops, the sort you normally only go in at Christmas or shopping for other presents. The overhead lights twinkled and a warm and gentle breeze would ruffle your hair, and as you passed some of the stores scents of vanilla and cinnamon would waft by, and you knew this was just the nicest place to be at this time of year.
Closer look at the belén in Los Cristianos’s church square
Sadly Avendia Juan XXlll has changed, the shops are become yet more dress shops or cafés, and the fun of knowing that you knew just where to find that extra stocking filler is gone. Christmas lights adorn the lamp posts of most towns, but look as if they have been stuck up as a kind of after-thought. Maybe it’s because I come from Blackpool, where, as any English person knows, they KNOW how to do street lights, but seems to me it would be better to put them all in a few square meters of glory, instead of dotting them about the place so that it all looks very half-hearted. The only place which looks a bit magical is the church square in Los Cristianos, which, as you can see in one of the pictures above, despite the warmth does look like a winter wonderland. Maybe it’s because it’s all done with tourism in mind – because the north is clearly a different matter altogether. Take a look at this lovely picture and story from local writer Andy Montgomery. That says to me that the effect has been created for the pleasure of local people, enjoying the atmosphere and the season.
In their favor, the local business community of Los Cristianos at least knew that they needed to drum up some trade, so they commissioned sand sculptors to create a belén in the corner of the main beach, which was opened officially by the mayor yesterday, and to which the finishing touches were being made when I snapped it Tuesday evening. Undoubtedly, it’s a work of art, and a difficult creation given the weather we’ve had of late.
This nativity graces the main roundabout when you enter Los Cristianos
At home, with my overburdened tree and my tacky tinsel adorning pictures and bookshelves, it feel like Christmas, but out there – not so much. It’s not because it never has. It used to. Maybe it’s this bl**dy awful recession, maybe it’s lack of imagination where needed, maybe it’s that greed has turned the warmth sour. This is going to be the first Christmas since 2000 that both my sons have been here at the same time, so I have reason to be jolly, so I don’t think it’s me being bah humbug either. Time to pull up the mental drawbridge for a while perhaps……but not before wishing anyone who happens across this post A VERY VERY HAPPY AND MERRY AND JOYFUL HOLIDAY SEASON!