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the partridge in her pear tree.

January 7, 2012

Up until this year, I’ve contentedly spent Christmas cozied up in pajamas next to a gas fireplace, staking claim on my entirely too appropriate “Partridge in a Pear Tree” wine glass, watching the Grinch and encouraging a high enough alcohol consumption that no one issues a mandate on attending evening church services. Lacking all of the aforementioned prerequisites for such a day, this year I was forced to find a suitable alternative.

the partridge in her pear tree.

christmas trees are universal?

Here in Spain, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays I travel to Abarán, a town about thirty minutes to the north of Murcia, where I spend my days fumbling through elementary Spanish, hugging adorable children who give me rainbow colored cards declaring that I’m the greatest thing since Barbie and Spiderman [ego boost, chyeah] and working side-by-side with an amazing staff. I’m incredibly fortunate to have been placed at Virgen del Oro. It’s a happy little place filled with big personalities, loud laughter and an apparent sense of camaraderie amongst employees. I have heard stories from other Auxiliares who have painted their time at school more like a parole sentence than an experience abroad, and I’ve often found myself thankful that my employment is spent more so with friends than just co-workers.

VdO staff luncheon and ... beauty pageant?

Most significantly impacting my teaching experience in Spain has been the head English teacher at the school. Enter, Amor: my fun, funky and undeniably hilarious mentor who has led me through the basics of teaching and helped me get acquainted with all things involving tapas and good wine.


Already previously impressed by the blatant awesomeness of her extended family, having spent a weekend with them this past fall, I welcomed the offer to celebrate “La Noche Buena” in their home. I’m a sucker for warm fuzzy holiday moments, and since I’m a big believer in familial indulgence this time of year, the invite was irresistible.

cookies and carrots for dinner.

The party didn’t start until 10:30 PM and it lasted until 7:00 AM, totally discharging my previously conceived notion that Christmas Eve should start when I wake up and end respectably by midnight or before. My mother instilled in me at a young age the importance of giving Santa ample time to stuff stockings and arrange packages…wouldn’t want him forgetting to leave your Easy-Bake Oven under the tree. Alas, on this side of the Atlantic even baby Elena was still wide-eyed with wonder at 3:00 AM.

behbeh elena defining stamina.

I substituted Gouda for Brie, soup for salad and volcanoes for pie. “Gambas” replaced cocktail meatballs and there was lamb instead of ham. Ice cream was still served because there is not a rational soul in this world who does not appreciate a bowl of that frozen, slow-melting goodness. Despite our cultural differences, I found that along with the ice cream, many familiarities of Christmas in Virginia had made their way into my Spanish celebration. Gifts were exchanged, Trivial Pursuit was present, wine was spilled on new tablecloths and embarrassing stories and subsequent humiliation became unavoidable as the hours passed and the night rolled on.

carving the roast beast.

i'm not quite ready for kids.

no christmas eve is complete without trivial pursuit.

real sons gloss their mums' lips.

There was a panoply of alcohol, and enough was guzzled that I happily led my hosts through a variety of English Carols, including Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Here Comes Santa Claus. I learned how to play an instrument that I still can’t pronounce in Spanish—in English it’s something to the effect of “stick of bamboo”—and five were bequeathed to me upon my departure. Looks like I’ll be bringing a new tradition home to the Thom house next year…

fast track to palm bruising.

enthusiastically singing "villancicos".

because i wasn't loud enough already.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2012 5:33 am

    Haha, my mom sent me Yahtzee for Christmas and I was soooo excited to have a game to plsy (even though I don’t ever remember it being something we played at home). I imagine another country’s Trivial Pursuit would be quite challenging?

    • January 9, 2012 9:13 am

      haha! no more challenging than singing christmas carols! and by that i mean next to impossible…;).

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