After not writing for so many weeks, I felt it appropriate to write a little blog to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. So far this year has felt like the most Christmasy of my now 3 years of holidays in Europe. The previous two years the local government didn't put up Christmas decorations or lights due to the recession and this year they decided to break them out and deck the streets. Now every main street sports lights on the tree-lined streets and a few decorated Christmas trees dot the town's plazas.
To make it more festive we somehow got blessed with some snow a few weekends back. Joseba and I went to our favorite mountain where we normally go hiking and played around in the snow for a few hours, like little kids who have never seen snow! With such a sunny day, the crisp air wasn't too cold, but the wind that whipped around the moutain made for some sharp ice crystals that poked through our jackets and sometimes made walking almost impossible. On a mission to do our normal hike to the top, we eventually turned back because we came to a corner and it seemed that each time we tried to make it around the bend the snow blasted in our faces. Although we didn't make it, we were happy with the gorgeous views and photos we got. It's not often you see the snow and the beach at the same time! Between snow angels and snowball fights, we considered our playtime as preparation...because on the 27th we are heading to Copenhagen and Stockholm to ring in the New Year, Scandinavian style.
The past few days have been all hustle and bustle. Between arts and crafts with the students and watching Christmas movies, I felt quite festive. Can you believe I was able to download Mickey Mouse's Christmas Carol, Frosty the Snowman and Ruldolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! I was estatic! The kids loved them as well, but I am sure I was the happiest in the room :) It feels so much more like Christmas when I watch those movies! Now with no work, I have been running around, buying some extra sweaters (it's probably going to be around -4º in Denmark and Sweden!) and last night made a cheesecake while rocking out to Christmas music. I will bring the cheesecake to the Christmas Eve dinner I have tonight with Joseba and his family and then tomorrow we will celebrate Christmas Day again with his family and more extended family too. Although it's not my USA family, it will be nice to be with family on Christmas.
Today, I stepped outside while taking a break from decorating the cake and wrapping presents to go buy a tasty breakfast treat and while outside saw the Olentzero parade. Instead of Santa, as you may remember from a blog two years ago, the Basque's have Olentzero - a miner who comes down from the mountain to leave Christmas presents. While we send letters to the North Pole, some of my students told me that in the days before Christmas they go to the mountain and leave notes in certain rocks that thier parents tell them Olentzero passes on the way down to the villages. I guess whether it's Santa or not, kids love to write the letters! Another funny difference is that I found that while we leave milk and cookies for Santa, the kids here leave Santa/Olentzero cookies and WINE! I'm sure the parents suggest that idea haha.
Off to finish preparing, but I wish you a very Merry Christmas. Yet another holiday spent across the pond, but no less Christmas cheer. I wish only the same for you all!
Merry Christmas! Eguberri On! Feliz Navidad!