Merry Christmas and happy 2011 to all! Here's just Christmas for now becuase New Years is too long to fit both together.
Christmas did not feel like Christmas to me in any shape way or form. Of course no snow and 90 degree weather gave it a strange atmosphere but there wasn't even that feeling of Christmas in the air or frantic shopping. My city was tranquil, like always, and my host sisters did some of their shopping the night of Christmas. Which they actually celebrate here the night of the 24th more than the day of the 25th. So that means that around ten thirty at night our family got together, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, about sixteen people, for Christmas dinner. The dinner was nearly all chilled foods because it was so hot outside that it's uncomfortable to eat hot foods. Lots of stuffed foods; deviled eggs, stuffed chicked, stuffed tomatoes, a type of bread that you roll like a cinnamon roll but is filled with tuna or veggies instead. And then for dessert, pan dulce, a sweet bread with fruit. It was crazy walking around in the super market and seeing an aisle totally, both sides and every single shelf, dedicated to pan dulce overnight. I think my family bought three.
We ate dinner and then at midnight fireworks started going off in the street so all the kids ran out to see. When we got back Papa Noel had "come" and placed all the gifts for everyone under the Christmas shrub. (When I told them that sometimes my family goes into the woods to cut down our Christmas tree they laughed. At least our Christmas tree wasn't made out of plastic like most families.)
Then everyone opened gifts because it was now technically Christmas day. I realized that Americans go all out on the gift giving in the sheer quantity in comparison. I gave my host family my gifts brought from Washington; Appletes and Cottlets, smoked salmon, some Starbucks instant coffee, a nice picture book, a Martha Stewert magazine, dried apples, and some little American flags. They liked everything but I'm pretty sure that no one is going to touch the salmon because seafood is really uncommon here.
After gift giving the parents sat downstairs and talked while the kids who were old enough to go to the clubs went upstairs to get ready. In comparison to the strictly family Christmas celebration I'm used to I was pretty surprised that we were allowed to go out on Christmas day and even more surprised to find that this is the highlight of Christmas. So Katja and I went to a friend's house around two am and then at four thirty everyone headed to the clubs to dance past the sunrise and walk home around seven in the morning. Not a normal Christmas to me at all but it was really fun!
And so I know it's late but I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, wherever you were in the world and enjoyed spending time surrounded by the people you love.
Love and post holiday wishes,