Merry Kitschmas!

December 04, 2014 By: erik Category: Photos, Spain

Cindy Lou WhoLast January, when we were packing up our plastic Christmas tree, something went wrong. I vaguely recall that all three feet of the tree didn’t get stored with the rest of the tree. Ever since, at least one of the feet has been bouncing around our house, getting played with by a child and found by an adult. So when I went to get the Christmas tree and set it up for Xmas 2014, I discovered that none of the feet were in the box. We only have the one that has been in the living room all year long. Little Cindy Lou Hoo is not amused. After an extensive, but ultimately unfruitful search, today I went out to scout possible replacement trees; this one has lasted us almost a decade.
(more…)

Buying A Christmas Tree

December 13, 2013 By: erik Category: Offspring, Partying, Photos, USA

Decorated Christmas TreeI think my parents normally buy their Christmas tree around mid-December, but this year, I requested that they do it a little early, during our visit with them. As good hosts, parents and grandparents, they obliged. It’s been years and years since I took part in the Christmas tree selection process with still-alive firs in a lot. My wife, who hasn’t had a real tree since she was a little girl, and daughter also enjoyed the experience. The trees at the lot were so fresh that they still had unmelted snow on them from the night before up on the mountain.
(more…)

Christmas Workshops At School

December 17, 2012 By: erik Category: Food, Offspring, Photos, Spain

Talleres de Navidad 2012 - 162Last week the three, four and five-year-old classes at my daughter’s school got together for an hour in the afternoon to do arts and crafts loosely related to Christmas. They were divided up into seven groups and each sent to a different part of the school with a teacher and some volunteering parents to do a craft of some sort. One room was face painting; another was gluing tongue depressors together into Christmas ornaments; another was constructing bits for a big nativity scene; another was baking marzipan cookies. Somehow, my daughter’s teacher’s husband found me and has been following me on Flickr for several months. I’ve yet to determine if his discovery was related to our choice of school and luck of school teacher. His photostream is much more impressive than mine. Anyhow, Nora’s teacher asked me if I could come and take some photographs of all the workshops. I was happy to volunteer.
(more…)

A Basque Christmas

December 26, 2011 By: erik Category: Mondragon, Offspring, Partying, Photos, Spain, Videos

Olentzero - A Basque ChristmasWe spent Christmas in Mondragón, in the Basque Country, this year like we have every year for a while now. This year was a little more somber than most because of the recent death of the family patriarch, but I think we did a pretty good job of being respectful but not wallowing in our sorrow too much. The best part was catching a glimpse of the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of my two year old daughter.
(more…)

Putting Up The Christmas Tree – 2011

December 08, 2011 By: erik Category: Family, Offspring, Parenting, Partying, Spain, USA

Christmas Tree 2011In the United States, the existence of the Thanksgiving holiday does a pretty good job of preventing the Christmas celebration and capitalism from encroaching too far into November like it can do in other countries. Of course, like any pent up desire, when it’s released, it’s extreme, resulting in the consumerism orgy that is Black Friday. Aside from shopping, the weekend after Thanksgiving is when many Americans put up their Christmas tree and other yuletide decor. Since my parents were visiting, I decided to partake in this tradition as well and put up our tree on Black Friday.
(more…)

Why Christmas Is No Longer Special

January 06, 2011 By: erik Category: Family, Parenting, Partying, Spain

thumbToday is Kings Day, the traditional gift giving day in Catholic Spain. For people who prefer Christmas to be more about Baby Jesus than the North Pole, it makes more sense to give gifts on Epiphany, when tradition says that the Wise Men allegedly gave gifts to Jesus.

This morning, my mother-in-law articulated a concern I’ve been feeling but had yet to put into words:
(more…)

Christmas 2010

December 28, 2010 By: erik Category: Beach, Complaining, Damn, Nature!, Experiments, France, Internet, Media

Santa Scales WallWe had a nice Christmas celebration. My Spanish family does a big Christmas celebration with aunts and uncles and cousins on odd numbered years, and the big get together on New Years Eve on even numbered years, so this year was a small Christmas celebration with just my wife’s parents, sister, and grandfather. As with most holidays, tradition rules, so the meals are pretty similar every year. Jumbo shrimp, stuffed eggs, paté, and gildas are the usual appetizers. We also had a fun time making a racket singing traditional Spanish Christmas carols.
(more…)

Tags:

Santa is a Cat Burglar

December 17, 2007 By: erik Category: Colindres, Spain, Weird

Only in the last decade or so, American movies and television have brought the concept of Santa Claus into Spain. Previously it was the sole job of the Three Wise Kings to magically bring presents to children. The main problem Santa faces in Spain is that none of the houses have chimneys. Children aren’t stupid. They might be able to side step rational thought when it comes to a fat man flying through the sky visiting every house in the world, but it would be ridiculous to expect the intruder to be able to walk through walls. But every Spanish house has one clear entry point to a gravity defying invader: the balcony.

Although I’ve only been living in Spain for 2.5 years, I’ve been visiting Spain for Christmas for over five years, so I can be fairly certain that what I’m about to describe is a new phenomenon only about 2-3 years old. Someone, a couple years ago, had the idea to make a little stuffed Santa Claus (called Papa Noel around these parts) and hang him from the balcony as if he were trying to get into the house with a sack full of presents. The cleverness of this idea was appreciated it spread like a highly contagious meme. Now all the decoration shops contain various versions of this cat burglar Santa, sometimes he’s just grabbing hold of the balcony railing, and other times he’s on a ladder. Being a native of the country that popularized this image of the jolly old myth, I find this adaptation particularly amusing.
(more…)