Celebration of Light + Snow

Feliz Navidad! Check out the Christmas lights near my home in the above video. Are you ready for Christmas? Gifts, travel, cooking, baking, decorations? As my kids like to tell me, it really is the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it? Yes, I say. And I mean it. Not the commercialism part. Not the part where kids open gifts, are happy for a few minutes, and then start squabbling over who got what (does this happen to you, too?). But the togetherness, the food, the celebration of Jesus, and, the lights. Spaniards, at least around here, take Christmas lights very seriously.

Tree in Malaga
Inside, looking up, in the tree in Malaga
I just love it. I mean, crowds of people come to see the lights. It brings people out on a chilly evening. Vendors sell balloons and roasted chestnuts. There is an air of festivity. And we all get to enjoy together the beauty of light and art and Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving, we got on the train to Malaga to wander around and enjoy the lights. There was supposed to have been music, too, but apparently they cancelled one of the performances we had intended to go to. Nonetheless, it was worth it to be outside with so many people marveling at the beauty of light. 

Enjoying the lights
Then, the week after Thanksgiving, we rented a car and drove a couple of hours north to Granada. An old friend of mine from college days lived there with her family, and I hadn't seen her in about 17 years. Our families became fast friends, and we had a lovely time eating, sight-seeing, and getting into deep conversations with them. Our kids enjoyed playing together, too. One of the things we did was to go see a giant ornament, set near a row of Christmas vendors. I bought mature goat cheese, morcilla (blood sausage), and a couple of types of jam (mango and chirimoya). The kids wanted to taste every sample. Then, when we reached the vendors who were selling gifts, they wanted to touch every trinket. It was a relief to move on and not hover over them, silently hoping nothing would be broken.

Giant ornament in Granada

Inside the giant ornament in Granada
On the last day of our time in Granada, we went to Sierra Nevada. We had heard there is a place where you can sled near the ski resort. Well, we borrowed snow clothes and a sled from our friends, made the drive, parked...and saw no snow. None. So we followed the crowds to the ski resort, which was down a long hill. There, a bunch of parents and kids with sleds were wandering around, asking each other, "Do you know where we can sled?" "No, do you?" "I hear you can pay. Twenty euro for half an hour." "What? That's crazy." "Yeah. Somewhere over there." Gesture to where the skiers are skidding to a stop at the bottom of the slope.

Super steep
Eventually we noticed some people waaaay up high, kind of slip sliding down a bank off to the side of one of the ski slopes. We made the icy hike with our hungry bellies and tired girls. We got there. We checked it out. Hmmm. We could sled, but there was no gradual stop at the end of the hill. Just people trying to stay upright. 

See all those people at the bottom? They sometimes got crashed into by sledders.
We figured out a way for the girls to go kind of diagonally down the hill, with Justin at the bottom, yelling "Brake! Brake!" Then, pulling hard on the breaks, Evelyn and Lydia kind of crashed into him. After just a few runs, we were ready for lunch. 

Even if the sledding wasn't what we'd hoped, the view was still amazing
Back home in Fuengirola there are lights across every main street. Different streets get different lights, but they are everywhere. I love how festive it makes the nights. Especially because this is a late culture. People are awake for hours after the sun goes down. The lights make it special. 

A main street where I like to get coffee and pan con tomate y manchego (toast with tomato and cheese)
Different streets get different lights.
If you're curious about what I've been doing in the kitchen lately, here are some links to recipes I've tried and enjoyed:

- Used lard in these cookies
- Didn't have molasses to make this favorite, but honey worked fine.
- Getting back into sourdough
- Tried my hand at making my very first paella
- We love this way to eat cod

And that's it! We are off to Portugal for the next ten days or so. Will tell you all about it. Merry Christmas!