Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas 2012

As much as I love life in Barcelona, I have no problem saying that Christmas here is nothing like that at home.  Not even close.  It's one of those holidays that makes me ache for the comfort of my house, my Christmas lights, ornaments, stockings hung by the fireplace, an actual fire in said fireplace (though of course not when the stockings are there!) and time with our family and friends.

I miss the luminaries in our neighborhood and Chinese food on Christmas eve with our neighbor friends.  By comparison, our holidays in Barcelona are pretty tame.  There are lights up on the streets but they don't have a very Christmassy feel to them.  They are purples and blues and other hues - not golds, blues, whites, greens and reds like we would have at home.  Very few people decorate their apartment balconies and the storefronts just do the bare basics it seems.  

The last few years, it has just been Josh, the kids and I on Christmas.  In a sense, this has been nice.  There has been no distraction - just the four of us.  The kids open their gifts and they can play all day long and not have to worry about going anywhere.  They like it and so have we - it's mellow and low key.  But it's been missing something...

Ah yes, family and friends... because the holidays in my mind are not just about presents, not by any stretch, it's about celebrating with those close to us.  And they've been half a world away.  But not this year.  This year we were lucky enough to have Josh's parents visiting us for the holidays and it really helped to make things feel a little bit more like home.  Normally on Christmas Day we go to their house after we open gifts at our house with my dad.  So it was nice to have some traditions back, even here in Spain.

In the past, Christmas Eve has always been a big deal in our house.  Making Christmas cookies with our neighbor friends, making reindeer food, eating Chinese food and a small kid gift exchange.  And in the last few years, we've added in a Catalan tradition, the caga tio (for our first entry on our Catalan friend - http://megustatuzapatos.blogspot.com.es/2010/12/our-new-catalan-christmas-traditions.html).  Since it's my responsibility to ensure that the present is under the caga tio's blanket before the kids whack it with a stick, it's easier to do our beat down in the morning so I can sneak the gift under the blanket the night before.  This year's magic "poop" were Angry Bird stuffed animals, a huge hit!

Caga tios are ready for Aidan and Liam when they wake up Christmas Eve morning...

All excited to start beating their caga tios
(video of them hitting the caga tios - http://youtu.be/Jxb2dOtkLPM)

Aidan showing Papa all his Angry Bird plushes (he just added to his collection thanks to the caga tio)

On the flip side, when it came to actually getting ready for Santa's visit, things are changing.  This year it saddened me that Aidan just wasn't that into it.  He's starting to lose the magic of Santa and while I've loved how much he's grown this past year, this is one instance where I wish he could stay little forever.  He had no interest in making cookies and so for the most part it was just Liam and I with a sporadic appearance by Aidan.

Rolling out the sugar cookie dough (gingerbread dough is currently stuck in customs)

Cutting out the cookies

A momentary appearance by Aidan

The two sides of Liam... pleased to be covered in flour and then very unhappy when I have banned him from leaving the kitchen til he can be cleaned up!

Decorating time

Decorating with Granny

Very focused

Josh and his mom made us a wonderful tenderloin with all the fixings for dinner on Christmas Eve.  We figured Christmas Day should be a nice low key day with no stress about cooking, so our big meal was on the evening before.  And it was delicious!!

After dinner we made some reindeer food and brought it up to the roof for Santa's reindeer.  I'm sure the pigeons of Barcelona have been feasting ever since as there was A LOT of reindeer food (for those not in the know, it's oats mixed with glitter) up there!

Liam starting his reindeer food

Getting a little help from Papa and Granny

My camera is really crapping out lately - all the pics are blurry... 

Spreading the food on our rooftop

The kids were in bed early and the adults not that much later.  This was probably a good thing because while the magic of Santa was semi-lost on Aidan during Christmas Eve, he made up for it by being up at midnight (when he was sent straight back to bed) and then again at 5:45 (when we just sucked it up and had him come into our bed for the rest of the night stating that Granny and Papa could not be woken before 6:30).  Thankfully he fell back asleep in our bed only to have Liam join us around 6:45.  By 7:30 everyone was up and ready to open their presents.

Liam writing his letter to Santa

He had an entire story he was telling us, somehow summed up in about 6 "words" that he wrote on his paper but I proud of him for trying his best, sounding out the "words" and not asking someone else to write it for him.

Cookies and note for Santa

Apple crisp with some whipped cream...though I see no apple crisp in front of Liam...

Aidan's favorite part of dessert...

Liam reading the Night Before Christmas with Papa (Aidan finally let me read it to him as well)

And it took about 2.3 minutes before everything before us was opened.  The biggest winners for this year were Skylanders Giants for the DS (it's a game that also involves action figures - way beyond my understanding but Aidan was into it in less than a millisecond!), Legos and some plushes.  Josh got me the running watch that I wanted (and have already used a few times since) as well as a new camera and I got him some new running clothes (for the new athletic Joshy) and a new jacket.  We also exchanged gifts with his family.  Unfortunately, my family's gifts are officially stuck in customs.  The good news on that is that we'll have another mini Christmas when they finally arrive.

Santa has been here!

Aidan opening the first gifts

Liam is pretty excited... Aidan is trying to see thru a tear in the paper

Happy kids!

A HUGE Lego Ninjago set (that I then had to build - god forbid he do it)

My new running watch

Running clothes

Helping Papa open his present from all of us

The look of surprise... you're going to Rome!!!


Liam helping Josh to unwrap his gift

Poor Jakey ... not feeling the love today

And the stockings

Josh's mom made her famous potato pancakes that I, personally, have missed so much the last few years.  And they were just as delicious as they were back in the States.  We spent the entire day in our pj's just relaxing and enjoying our gifts and time with each other.

It's sad to see another holiday season come and go but it reminds me of how much closer we are to have Christmas again at home.  I remember that first Christmas season here in Spain a few years ago and feeling so far away from everyone and everything to the point where my heart just ached.  And seeing how far we've come that while we certainly miss being home, we've found a way to make the holidays special here in Spain too.


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