My Spanish Holiday Season

With this current holiday season has come many changes for me. This is the first ever Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s that I will not spend at home with my family and friends. As much as I love living in Spain and getting to witness first-hand how other cultures celebrate these holidays (with the exception of Thanksgiving since that is purely American), it’s still very difficult being away from the people that I love during this time. If anything, this year away from home has helped put my life into perspective for me and has shown me what truly matters in my life: my friends and family. Not that I didn’t know that before, but it’s even more apparent to me now that I am away. But I know that this is just one holiday season out of many more to come, and that’s what I tell myself if I’m ever feeling down. It also helps that I’ve been surrounded by Christmas joy over here in Europe and my American friends and I have done a great job of recreating our American traditions here in Spain!

For Thanksgiving, 13 of us American expats gathered in Kristen’s living/dining room for a Thanksgiving feast! It was a potluck dinner, so we each brought different Thanksgiving classics to contribute. I brought the stuffing and the corn. I found both of these items at the store called Taste of America. Although this store is overpriced, it sells a lot of popular American food items.  Along with the food I brought, we had delicious turkey (thanks to Elli!), mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, butternut squash, green bean casserole, steamed green beans, bread, spinach dip, and mac n’ cheese. As if we weren’t full enough from dinner, there’s always room for dessert, right? We had plenty of pastries, cookies, and pumpkin pie! I have to say, I was really impressed with us and how we succeeded bringing Thanksgiving to Spain- turkey and all! We were all sooo full by the end of the meal, which only means we did Thanksgiving right!

Us and our feast!

Us and our feast!

Our Delicious Feast!

Our Delicious Feast!

Can't Forget About Dessert!

Can’t Forget About Dessert!

Christmas season came in full swing once Thanksgiving ended. Madrid has plenty of Christmas-y things to do! Spain’s main department store, El Corte Inglés, has a ton of Christmas decorations and even a Christmas market inside. There are also Christmas markets scattered all around the city, such as in Plaza Mayor and Plaza de España. The whole city is decorated with lights and decorations, especially in Sol (the center the of the city). My friends and I took the “Navibus” around the city to see the lights. This is a double-decker bus that takes you around the city for an hour to look at Madrid’s Christmas lights for only 2 euros!

In front of the Christmas tree in Sol.

In front of the Christmas tree in Sol.

Seeing the lights on top of the Navibus!

Seeing the lights on top of the Navibus!

Christmas market in Plaza Mayor.

Christmas market in Plaza Mayor.

Exploring the Christmas decorations in El Corte Inglés.

Exploring the Christmas decorations in El Corte Inglés.

Only in Spain can you find legs of ham used as Christmas decoration props in store-front windows.

Only in Spain can you find legs of ham used as Christmas decoration props in store-front windows.

Then this past Saturday, our last weekend before Christmas break, my friends and I did a Secret Santa–or as they say in Spain: “Amigas Invisibles.” We gathered at Val’s place for pizza, drinks, and for exchanging our gifts! Kelly had me and got me my long-awaited “I ❤ Madrid” mug which I was very excited about! I gave a not-so-subtle hint that that’s what I wanted haha. It was a fun night of getting in the Christmas spirit before we are all scattered in different directions for break. I’m so glad I have these girls here to help create a home-away-from-home here in Madrid.

All of us girls with our Secret Santa gifts!

All of us girls with our Secret Santa gifts!

But the holiday season isn’t over quite yet! In just 3 short days I will be boarding my flight for my incredible winter break trip with my friend Lindsey! We’re spending our entire break (over 2 weeks!) traveling to Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, and Hamburg. I couldn’t be more excited! These places are known to have amazing Christmas markets so that will definitely help us get into the spirit. We will be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Vienna and then New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in Berlin. It will be weird spending these holidays anywhere but home, but I am looking forward to doing a ton of traveling and seeing how a different part of the world celebrates these holidays. So stay tuned! My next posts will surely be about my trip. But, in the meantime, talk to you all next year in 2014!

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