This year, as the Spanish tuck into a nice ‘cocido’, I will be eating a sumptuous turkey dinner cooked by my sister in the English countryside. This is the first Christmas I have spent in the United Kingdom for more than 20 years, and I can’t pretend that I’m not thrilled at the prospect of chestnut stuffing, bread sauce and other traditions that my mother made legendary. Other good customs we have been enjoying are eating chocolate at all times of day and drinking mulled wine and all other types of wine all the time and thinking it’s okay. We have also done a Christmas film (Mary Poppins), and looked at the charity Christmas tree display in Lichfield Cathedral. It all brings back the best parts of my childhood in England.
I am sure Spanish people love their own Spanish Christmas traditions, like the Christmas lottery, the endless carols that play in shopping centres and their own favourite dishes. Oh, and nativity scenes. I love turron and I love cava, but you can keep the ‘polvorones’. Since I found out that they contain lard I’ve gone right off them. Also, if you breathe near them you risk inhaling the greasy powder and choking.
This is my first Christmas as a singleton for about 10 years. I always had go to my ex-husband’s family’s home, filled with endless people I only saw once a year and whose names I couldn’t remember. They all smoke and drink, but not like we drink… they drink until they are incomprehensible. They shout in Valenciano, which I can understand if I really concentrate, but can’t be bothered to understand at midnight when they’ve only just started serving up the boiled cabbage clad meatball that serves for Christmas dinner in Villajoyosa.
Another friend has a Polish boyfriend who insists on serving river carp that tastes basically of river, i.e. weed and mud. I’m not surprised they fast all day on Christmas Eve before tucking into Wigilia, a repast which includes many traditional dishes and desserts can sometimes last for over two hours.
The ideal Christmas is different for everyone, but I’m sure it is has a lot to do with how you were brought up and the things that your mother used to cook, because Christmas makes us look back to happy, innocent times, when we believed in magic, Santa Claus and a house full of relatives was a good thing. Happy holidays everyone, here’s to a fabulous 2019!