Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Tis the season to be...

.... weirded out by the fact you are sitting in 28 degrees and sunshine. Yet in a week it will be Christmas.

For a lot of people it might be a dream situation - but Jan and I are both winter people. We are most definitely Starks of the "Winter is Coming. AWESOME!!" variety. We love celebrating Christmas, from our London trips on Christmas Eve to the Albert Hall with my parents, to the gorgeous snowy Christmases in Germany with Jan's parents. We are Christmas tree fundamentalists - not only does it HAVE to be real, it HAS to be a Nordmann. Otherwise there's just no point. And EVERYONE loves watching Jan light bottles full of high proof alcohol to make the traditional Feuerzangenbowle, waiting to see whether we will end up with a delicious drink, or a visit from the firemen.



But hot mulled wine would melt us like snowmen in the summer sun, we haven't had a single piney whiff of a Nordmann, and a white Christmas?! Pah! We are aiming to make a sand-man this year. All of which means that neither of us are feeling very festive at the moment.

The decorations are up here:



And the Christmas songs are playing, but what with the trying to find a flat (more on which later), trying to find a job and trying to find our feet generally, we keep forgetting to do the basic Christmas things like DECORATE or BUY PRESENTS FOR PEOPLE. It has been a monumental achievement that we have posted cards that may just make it before Christmas day.

At the moment we have no plans for Christmas, although I am sort of planning my inaugural-new-bikini-wearing-and-first-swim-in-the-sea for Christmas day. There are also carol concerts around the city on Christmas eve, so we may check one of those out (because, you know, singing "In the bleak midwinter" will feel so atmospheric here).

Our present to each other this year will hopefully come in the form of a lovely flat by the sea, for which we have put down a holding fee (which means the estate agents won't advertise it anymore) and we should be signing the contracts in the next week or two, with a prospective move in date of 3 January. Hurrah! Merry Christmas to us! Pictures will follow, but at the moment it feels like we might be jinxing it a little to say the flat is definitely ours - so everybody please stop reading now and go and touch some wood for us (preferably a Nordmann Christmas tree) so that it all works out!

In the meantime, although we can't go all-out yule crazy with decorations in the temporary flat (this is the first time IN LIFE I have not had a Christmas tree, waaaaaahhhhh!) I have created a little festive table to try and get us in the mood:



For those wondering, it consists of
(1) A plant from the local supermarket with cheesy glitter green leaves in amongst the flowers,
(2) The aforementioned multi-purpose celebratory disco ball I nicked from a fancy cocktail and used for Jan's birthday,
(3) A candy cane boiled sweet I took from a pizza place we ate at,
(4) Two tree decorations we bought to reflect our new life here - a Koala in a plant pot, replete with eucalyptus leaf, and a kangaroo in a boot - BOTH in the essential Christmas hat.
(5) Two Lindt teddy bears - MANDATORY.  Even if Jan thinks chocolate in the heat is a bad idea.  You just have to eat it quicker.
(6) My (eek!) stocking filler presents from my lovely parents (I foolishly packed the stocking in the shipping container, grrr).  And NO, we don't need to talk about the 35-year-old-still-receiving-a-Christmas-stocking issue.  I LOVE my Christmas stocking. I would rather have a Christmas stocking than an actual present.  THE END. 
(7)  That worldwide Christmas staple that was most definitely present in the crude animal stall Jesus was born in - TINSEL.

But you know what? As much as I miss all my Christmas decorations and the excitement of unwrapping them and the flood of memories of Christmases past they bring, it is actually really nice to have a pared down Christmas this year. Because instead of being distracted with decorations and present buying and all of the Christmas commercialism that can leave you jaded if you are not careful, this year the most important gift is going to be the time we will make to speak to family and friends. You can really take that for granted, until you are thousands of miles and several time zones away, at a time of the year when celebrating those close connections is so important. 

So MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone!  Make you sure give all of those people you love an extra big squeeze - and we are sending you big squeezes from across the ocean! Get ready for our Christmas: Beach Edition* in, oh, about seven days or so!
Xmas tree with presents
* Warning, may contain cringe-worthy pictures of us in swimwear and Santa hats.