Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hola Holidays!

from Meghann:

It's beginning to look a lot little like Christmas around our casa. Each year we wait until December to do any decorating or Christmas activities, so that Thanksgiving has its own time and we get a chance to relax between holidays. Also, the Christmas season in España seems to start a little later, probably because they continue to celebrate until Three Kings Day on January 6.

The holiday festivities on base are officially kicked off by the Tree Lighting Ceremony, which includes Santa flying in by helicopter. We missed this last year, but figured we should go this year since it's a Rota tradition and there are elves fast-roping out of a helicopter. 

The next day we visited our local viveros (what we would call a "nursery" in the States, which when you think of it, is a weird word for a place to buy plants) to get our tree. Our favorite way to get a tree is to cut our own, but we were just excited to get a real tree and the viveros had a decent selection.

The trees had colored yarn tied at their tops which corresponded to size and price.  The rojo trees were adorable (shorter than me! can't say that about many things) and only 9 Euro (about $12). Graham picked out an amarillo (yellow) which seemed like the right size for our house and cost 14 Euro (about $19).

We also grabbed a few small poinsettias from the live plant section.

Then we loaded up our tiny tree in our tiny car (the amarillo just barely fit in the Mini) and went home to decorate it finally decorated it last weekend before we had people over to watch the Army/Navy game.

We left most of our keepsake ornaments in storage in Norfolk, so our tree is mostly covered in generic red and green balls, but there are a few ornaments that we have picked up here and there. 

A handwoven bull ornament from Ronda, one of our favorite small towns in España.

This lovely "First Christmas" ornament (even though technically we've had more than a few Christmases together) that was gifted to us by our amazing wedding photographer.

We found this Hand of Fatima in Marrakech (it's actually a key chain, but makes the perfect ornament).

A mini cowbell from our recent trip to Geneva, which turned out to not be our favorite place ever, but who can resist a cowbell? Clearly not us.

We've kept the rest of the decorations around the house pretty simple. We only shipped over one storage box of holiday stuff during our move, so we put those few things out and added other items from around the house. Also, since we move a lot and we never know what our house will look like, we don't have a lot of elaborate decorations. Perfect example: our current casa has a mantel, but our last house didn't. 

Graham made fun of me for buying this straw animal (deer? ram?) last year at Ikea, but I loved it (and was probably suffering from a little bit of decorating withdrawal after I realized that one storage box is not that much stuff). We recently found out that it is a Yule Goat and a Scandinavian Christmas tradition! 

Graham trimmed some of the bottom branches off our tree so that it would fit in the stand and I used upcycled (trendy!) them on the mantel and dining room table.

Our entryway table has our advent calendar and is our official countdown-to-Christmas reminder. Or for us, the official stop-procrastinating-and-send-those-Christmas-cards-already reminder.

The outside of our house is pretty bare by Americano standards, where people go all out with lights and wreaths and life-size Santas. But here in España, it's rare to see decorations on people's homes. Maybe partially due to the zombie-proof high walls that would make it difficult for people passing by to even see them?

It can be a little strange to drive around this time of year and not see house after house lit up with lights (and we definitely miss it). But one thing we have noticed is that there's just not as much pressure to go all out and certainly no competition with neighbors to be the best house on the block, which means less stress. And that definitely makes for a more enjoyable holiday season. 

So, we've put up the decorations that we do have and are enjoying the cozy Christmas atmosphere that they bring to our casa. But we're not as worried about everything being perfect (or better than everyone else's) and that leaves more time for holiday cheer.

What about you? Are you a holiday decorating minimalist or do you go all out?

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