I’m doing my best to feel that surge of Christmas excitement but I haven’t felt it yet. There was a brief moment the other day when I put on some Christmas music in the kitchen and suddenly realized what I was listening to so I started jumping up and down like a little girl exclaiming “Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!” But other than that, I haven’t felt the same kind of excitement I usually do. In fact, I think it gets less and less every year and that makes me more sad than I’ll ever be able to express. Maybe this year it’s because it’s not cold enough – at 17 degrees during the day, it’s hard to feel like the season is changing. Most of the trees still have orange leaves and I still see flowers blooming in the gardens. When I walk down the streets, I actually still see some people wearing short sleeves!
“When you’re still waiting for the snow to fall it doesn’t really feel like Christmas at all.”
-‘Christmas Lights,’ Coldplay
I think Madrid is trying, I really think it is. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been watching the lights and decorations slowly appear around town. I’ve been catching glimpses of red bows and garlands hanging in shop windows, but still, it doesn’t feel like ‘Christmas.’ I don’t really know how to explain what Christmas feels like. I think it’s something we all know, even if we can’t remember anymore.
Maybe it’s rosy cheeks and fingers keeping warm under mittens, and the smell of wood burning on an old fashioned stove. It’s the flicker of a candle on an advent wreath, and the first bite of your mommy’s Christmas cookie, and the scent of pine when you’re sitting on your living room couch reading a book in your pajamas with a mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows.
I saw some snow on the mountains the other day when I was walking home from school and that made me so happy, I stopped to take a picture. It’s sadly all melted now though. Ander and I set up the Christmas tree yesterday. It’s a small little tree that smells like a department store, but at least it’s a tree. I put on Christmas music and we danced and sang (well, I did anyway) as we put up the (mostly) store bought decorations. My favourite part of the little tree are two little jingle bells that Leire made out of coffee K-cups. I think they’re the most beautiful part.
Last night, we all went to town to see the lights because it was the first time the city actually turned them on. It was very pretty – each street has a different design and the colours sparkled and shimmered in the darkness. We bought chestnuts that really were roasting on an open fire, and stood in front of the huge, golden tree in Puerta del Sol, dazzling at the lights and sheer size of it. The streets were so busy! We walked past bustling shoppers trying to get last minute ‘Black Friday’ deals and musicians on nearly every street corner serenading the night. There was a group of four guys on guitars singing – you guessed it -‘Wonderwall’. I laughed. The moment it started to feel a bit like Christmas again was when we passed a string quartet playing the ‘Canon’. We stopped to listen and it was all so peaceful that something in my soul started to sing.
Onward we weaved between the crowds of people until we got to a coffee/ice-cream shop. I got a pear sorbet with cookie chunks and it was really quite lovely. Ice cream in November – my hands weren’t even cold and I wasn’t even wearing gloves.
As we walked back to the car, I looked up at the lights and I listened to Ander ask if he was supposed to write his letter to Papa Noel in Spanish or English, and I felt something stir inside of me. It wasn’t Christmas exactly, but it was something. I think it might have been hope. And maybe that’s a start.