This Christmas, my boyfriend and I chose to remain in Madrid. We had considered returning to the UK but the prospect of confronting; the packing of many suitcases, the crazy airports and masses of people, delayed flights, bad weather, the hustle and bustle of the usual Christmas shopping frenzy (in ALL stores, but especially supermarkets, where food hoarders fight over the last Turkey!), the lack of personal transport and general malaise of UK Christmas cheer – in short, this bedlam really didn’t hold its usual appeal! So, we decided, sensibly, to stay put and experience a Spanish Christmas.
I admit, I was pleased and relieved to be staying in Madrid for Christmas, so too was my boyfriend. It saved us a lot of angst and hassle, plus, it has been great just having time to ourselves. We don’t seem to have enough quality ‘us’ time, and being here meant not having the usual obligations to please anyone, but ourselves!!! Selfish, it might be, but true!
In all, Christmas here hasn’t been such a culture shock. We have managed to buy the food we needed without hassle, without pushing and shoving and fighting in the aisles for the Brussel Sprouts or pigs in blankets! I did feel slightly peeved; I couldn’t buy any Mince Pies, Cranberry Sauce or my beloved Bread Sauce (the Spanish don’t know quite what they are missing out on!), and my home made gravy lacked its usual pizazz due to me forgetting to buy in extra stock cubes. Yet, regardless of this and the fact Spanish Christmas cakes and sweets just aren’t all that, we managed to survive!!!
We listened to Christmas songs and carols from King’s College Cambridge (the best Christmas carol choir service). We opened our presents, even though the Spanish wait until the Three Kings (6th January). We didn’t have a tree or any decorations, but then I knew we wouldn’t be buying those this year. We celebrated Boxing Day (26th December) by going out for a fabulous dinner and indulging in some lovely cocktails, although the Spanish don’t celebrate Boxing Day.
So, we didn’t miss out on anything really. However, I did think that it would be a quiet Christmas, as it was going to be just the two of us, but I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Nearly every night we have been out and about, far more actually than we would have been in the UK. On our doorstep are cafes, bars, clubs and restaurants. It has been easier to have fun and celebrate the holidays just because we are in the heart of the city. We can, on a whim, just go where we want, when we want and don’t need to rely on anyone else or fit into anyone else’s schedule. It has been great!
Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends to bits!! I also enjoy spending time with them, and miss them dearly!!! Yet, Christmas in the UK can sometimes become, well, a little bit claustrophobic. Let me explain; I think people get stuck in a Christmas rut, a routine whereby every Christmas ends up becoming the same, without any real changes. Most importantly, the fun factor is often left out of the equation for one reason or another. This Christmas though, hasn’t been in anyway ‘rutified’ (Definition: to be put into the mould of a rut – I know it isn’t a genuine word!).
This Christmas has been a change of scene, it has been something different, we have come and gone as we pleased and we’ve had fun. This is why for me, in many ways, this Christmas has been one of the best. I always wanted to go away for Christmas, but hadn’t felt I could before, because of not wanting to upset my family and make them think I didn’t want to be with them. It is considered to be somewhat selfish, doing your own thing at Christmas; it is after all fundamentally about being with family and friends.
Yet, by living in Madrid we had a legitimate reason for not being there with them at Christmas time, even though for the previous two Christmases we returned to the UK to be with them. This time, we wanted a change though, we wanted to make the most being in Madrid. We haven’t got that long a time remaining here, this time next year we will in fact have already moved back to the UK. So, understandably we wanted to maximise every opportunity that being here affords us, which includes, a Spanish Christmas.
Hopefully then, we haven’t been deemed too selfish, as I do know our family and friends have enjoyed their Christmases too (even without us there with them)!
So, now Christmas time is over (very nearly over), I have, as most people do, been remembering all that has happened in 2013. More specifically, the life I have lived here in Madrid during this time. Although being out here for these few years hasn’t been all plain sailing, I feel that this year has been a year for positive changes. I feel quite good about things. I am also feeling quite saddened by the prospect of not being here in Madrid for next Christmas. It does seem as though this chapter of my life will soon enough come to an abrupt close, and without any fanfare I will be back where I was, as though these few years in Madrid never happened. How weird!
So, for my boyfriend and I it is even more important than ever before to enjoy the time we have left living in Spain!!! This Christmas sort of encapsulates that momentum we feel, the fact that we want to have fun and experience life to the fullest without feeling bad about about doing so!!
Anyway, before I become maudlin, and I don’t even have New Years Eve as an excuse, let me say I have thoroughly enjoyed the ups and downs of my time in Madrid (and hopefully will enjoy the year to come)! When the time comes and we depart for the UK, I can take back with me a whole new perspective and life experiences. As someone, at sometime once said; “nothing good can last forever”; maybe not, but I can of course treasure the memories forever!
So, here’s to a fabulous New Year – for me, you and everyone out there in the world!!!
I shall be celebrating my New Years Eve in Puerta del Sol, drinking some alcohol and some eating grapes (not as strange as it might sound – it is a Spanish tradition to eat grapes as the clock strikes to signal the new year).
Where-ever YOU are and what-ever YOU do, have fun and enjoy every last minute of 2013!!!!!!