Christmas Thoughts

The streets of Almuñécar, Motril and Granada have been tingling with Christmas paraphernalia for weeks now, and the shops are crowded with people buying all kinds of goodies, dolls and plastic toys. Barbie Dolls with compulsory pony and luxury car are shown in TV commercials every day. Blinking Christmas trees of plastic are on display in the shop windows. But somehow, this year, I feel that there are more sad things going on in the world than during previous Christmas-seasons.

Take the cholera epidemic in Haiti, the coal mining tragedy in New Zealand and the tragic stampede at the Phnom Penh Water Festival in Cambodia, not to mention the economic crisis in Ireland, which will have severe effects on the whole EU-economy and might trigger a snowball effect within the Union.

And Spain, especially Andalucía, is hit by the worst unemployment rate for decades and here in Almuñécar many people have great difficulties in making ends meet in their everyday life. For many families there is no question of extra Christmas-spending. People who are better off can help by contributing to Caritas, the Red Cross or by arranging events, the revenues of which go through different charity organizations to those in need of help.

All this makes you long for a quiet Christmas holiday, like in the olden days. I remember my Christmas holidays on my grandfather’s farm house in Ostrobothnia on the east coast of Finland.

On Christmas Eve, after the cows had been milked and the horses fed, we had a nice Christmas dinner with ham, lute fish and rice porridge. When the Christmas gifts had been handed out by Santa Claus, my grandfather reappeared and sat down in his rocking chair singing Christmas carols and reading the Christmas Gospel to us children. Early on Christmas morning when it was still dark, we went to church in sleighs with jingling bells on a snowy road lined by hundreds of blinking candles in the farmhouse windows. Those were the days.

Christmas 2010 we will celebrate in Almuñécar, according to Spanish traditions, with fish, seafood, turrón and Cava and the twelve grapes on New Year’s Eve. To get something of the ‘country feeling,’ we will visit our friends in the village of Saleres in the Lecrín Valley, south of Granada.

Saleres is one of the most traditional and less-developed villages in the valley, but it has a unique feel to it. You see the men folk working with the mules and the women sweeping their paths and chatting with each other and with passing folk. The people of Saleres are delightful, polite and helpful. It seems that everybody is related, if not brother and sister, then as ‘primo’ or cousin. The village is full of characters, nearly all on the old side, since the young people have gone off to find work in Granada or Barcelona.

We will have a drink and tapas in the village bar in the main square, the door hidden behind an old striped curtain. Only the village men go in there, but tourists are welcome as couples also. After the drink, we will take a stroll down to the beautiful old church, which is highlighted in many guide books. The day will end with a typical ‘post-matanza’ dinner with ham, morcilla and longaniza.

After an eventful autumn, our Nordic associations will end their season with a Christmas bazaar in the clubhouse, followed by a glögg party on December 8th and the traditional Swedish Lucia celebration in Chinasol on December 13th. Feliz Navidad, God Jul, Merry Christmas!

Marianne Lindahl

Born in Helsinki, Finland, many decades ago and a resident in Almuñécar since 2001. I have a M.Sc in Economics and Business Administration and an Authorized Translator´s exam. Prior to this I studied art in Helsinki and Paris. After a career in business I started painting again, (oil, impressionist with a touch of naivism)and have participated in many exhibitions in Spain and Finland. I am active in Asociacion Hispano-Nordica in Almuñécar, a meeting point for people from Sweden, Norway and Finland. I am married, with 3 children and 9 grandchildren. Hobbies: Cats, golf, trecking, jazz. 


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