Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas highlights at Río Tajo, 5. Dec 05

Long time no write - I'm getting lazy but shouldn't so here's an update on activities here at Río Tajo this Christmas tide. Being out of work gave me lots of time for preparations and this year there was even a countdown master plan with elaborate menus (Christmas is all about eating, blast it) and secret present lists.

Quite a lot of wining and dining took place which included 2 now traditional meals - dinner with Mar and Mariano (my and our La Vanguardia journo neighbours). This year's dinner took place at our house and was the most exciting one yet as Mar and Mariano have just adopted Sam a 3 year old Chinese boy who is delightfully affectionate. He was a real plus to the dinner. Since then Mariano has been successfully operated after a cancer scare. We love them so much.

The next celebration meal on the agenda was with Julio and Fátima (my best pals). We all ate so much Julio needed a siesta afterwards. As is typical with Fati, she was only an hour late and, of course, no apologies on arrival!!! We ate the great fillet steak we had bought at a trip to Mercamadrid at the beginning of December.

In Spain the most important event is the Christmas Eve dinner but more about that later (and some pics) as we are off to the cinema to see Luther - people go to see the Narnia Chronicles and King Kong, etc but when you have a philosopher for a husband and a daughter (Olivia) immersed in journalist studies, you go to see more cultural things. Last time I studied Luther I was about 12 so I won't remember much. Well I'm back now (film was actually quite good) so I will continue where I left off:

Yes, Christmas Eve. It will probably have been our last Christmas Eve dinner here at Río Tajo. A very quiet and lovely dinner as usual; this year all prepared by me and not our household help cum cook Ana who made last year's dinner. Anyway my perushki (Russian pasties) are better than hers!!! This year just the family, no lonely strays like darling Berk Saglik a Turkish guest we had last year.

Christmas Day was purely English and as traditional as always - only change being we had capon instead of turkey; otherwise NO concessions. The day starts with the girls (now aged 20 and 21) finding Father Christmas' stockings in their rooms and we all go ooh and aah at everything they find. Then breakfast in the dining room with the best tea set. Once everything is put away and we are washed and dressed the opening of the presents starts. We go for volume in our house rather than quality, so we are often opening presents for nearly 2 hours - one at a time, of course, all "washed down" by a nice box of Cadbury chocolates.

The rest of the day consists of making the Turkey (or capon) lunch with all the trimmings (thanks again Anne for the sage and onion stuffing, etc), eating it, clearing away and then having a Spanish siesta for about 2 hours. There is NO dinner in the evening and the left overs get eaten on Boxing Day. The day finishes off with a family film we all watch together (with bloody chocolates again). This year it was the Choir Boys; lovely!!

Another highlight is and was dinner at Julio's. Julio is one and we are 6: Eladio, Masha, Susi, Oli, my Father and Oli's boyfriend José Luis. The rule is that the girls can only bring their boyfriends if they have been going out with them for more than a year and a half and, of course, that is never Susana's case. Fati also came this year so in the end we were 8 in Julio's delightful bacherlor flat. As usual the food was out of this world - most of it came from a very good catering group called Mallorca. Here we also exchange presents, each one with oohs and ahhs, too and this year Julio taught us all a game, the objective of which was to make us all drunk. Certainly a night to remember.

Well, Christmas isn't over. There is still New Year's Eve to come and that is always quite fun in our family. Tomorrow, as always we will travel up to León in the north of Spain to spend the evening with Eladio's family. With all his brothers and sisters, their offsprings and boyfriends and girlfriends there will be about 30 of us. The only sad note will be the absence of Eladio's father who passed away in May.

And after New Year's Eve comes "Reyes" or the Feast of the Three Kings on the 6th January. That is when Spaniards traditionally gave and still give their presents. As we love celebrations in this family, we will certainly be celebrating that too.

But meanwhile here are some photos to illustrate this post:

Top left Julio, Fátima and me at Julio's dinner

Top right: My Father, Susi, José Luis + Oli at Julio's dinner

2nd row left: My Father, Susi and me on Christmas Eve

2nd row right: Eladio and his girls on Christmas Eve

centre 1: Susi showing the thongs she got on Xmas morning.

centre 2: Eladio and I on Christmas Eve

Last photo: dear Sam stroking Henry our cat.

All in all a very nice Christmas time.

Cheers to you all/Masha

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat

Hello again

I haven't written for a long time - not much to post really is probably the reason. Also my 3 main projects are proving difficult: 1) lose weight fast (have lost 6 kgs but have not budged for a month despite HUGE sacrifices and now Christmas is coming - HELP!!!- CHANGE AND CORRECTION HERE: today Monday 19th I have lost 2 kg more, all in all 8kg!!!), 2) find a new job (not doing well on that scene either - also had a bit of a blow over one particular position - won't go in to that though because it's all a bit depressing) and 3) sell this house fast so as to buy the new dream house (see my last post) or the Argentinian one. There hasn't been much light so far but there may be positive movements soon so stay clued to this blog and I will let you know.

So, all in all a bit depressing. But, Christmas is coming and I love Christmas so refusing to go under being my main objective in this new period in my life, here I am with one week to go and practically no shopping done. But don't despair, all is planned and everything will be alright on the day, as happens every year. The first bout of shopping happens tomorrow when Susana (my oldest daughter) and I hit the shops at 10 am with the big spenders, my husband and my father - ready to spend money on the presents we tell them to buy. The second and hopefully last bout will be on Thursday when Olivia (my second daughter) and I will hit the shops for the rest of the presents.

To prove Christmas has arrived at Calle Río Tajo, 5 here is a photo of Eladio next to the tree we put up on Friday last.

So a Happy Christmas to you all and a great year ahead too for all of us.

Love Masha

PS Thanks Jill for the tip about getting Christmas crackers at Taste of America. They have them and tomorrow I'm picking up 4 boxes!!
PPS Thanks Anne for bringing me the needed English Christmas goodies without which our Christmas tables would not have been the same: cranberry sauce, Paxo sage and onion stuffing and Christmas crackers
PPPS Thanks darling Miguel for bringing me the nearly forgotten Christmas pudding from Waitrose.