December 2009

Doesn’t that sound optimistic? Here we are in the midst of one of the deepest economic crisis ever and I’m talking about hope for 2010. And no, I’m not planning to go into politics this year! In fact, as I write my last entry for the Andalucia.com blog (I’ll be handing over the baton to a new blogger as of next week), I can’t help thinking about an uplifting article I read in Málaga’s “Diario Sur” newspaper just a few weeks ago. Titled “Esos Malos Oportunos” (These Opportune Misfortunes) it looked at all the good things we can get from tough times.
Every year it’s the same thing. Because I’m fully immersed in Spanish culture I have to go through this same old debate once again: Santa or “Reyes Magos”? And you might be surprised to learn just how strongly many Spanish families feel about keeping Santa out of Spain. Many, many families I know are staunch supporters of the Three Kings. As thus, they bar their doors to Santa Claus. In my opinion, this simply means the kids have to wait until the day before the end of Christmas break to get their presents.
Now that I have your attention… But isn’t that what’s on everyone’s mind this holiday season? And saving money during the holiday season is really just a matter being creative. When you think about it, the things that really make the Christmas season special don’t have to be expensive – and might even be more meaningful if they’re not. One of the things that most surprised me when I moved to Spain was a very low emphasis on Christmas gifts compared to the material culture I had left behind.
To be stressed out? It’s not too early to start thinking about the stress Christmas can cause in many families. Every year we read about how domestic violence statistics rise at this time of the year due to the stresses of the season. But we don’t have to talk about extremes of violence to agree that a reduction in stress levels could be good for everyone. Over the years I’ve noticed how some Spanish families I know have taken measures to make the season more relaxing for everyone – including the matriarch who so often gets overloaded with the task of entertaining one crowd after another.