Sunday, December 16, 2007

Idea Shopping

For those of you who think Spain is all sun and beaches, you're wrong. It is cold here in Pamplona and here are the pictures to prove it. The first is the window guard in Ro and Vio's room, and the second is of the glass wall of the bus stop at around 11 in the morning. That's frost people...yes, we have frost in sunny Spain.

We're down to -8C in the shed in our backyard, which means the cat refuses to go out and spends all day knocking the Christmas tree over. We haven't even finished decorating it, since it's on the floor more time than it's actually standing.

I considered taking it down again, but the kids wouldn't hear of it (I think they're afraid that if there's no tree, there might not be any presents), so I'm thinking of starting a new horizontal tree trend. What do you think? Will it catch on? If Posh Spice were to do it, I'm sure it would, but I lack the fame or money to influence people to do stupid things. Lucky for me, I found something called Fix Clean to spray on the tree, and now the cat won't come near it - Humans : 1; cat : 0. Maybe now I'll have time to do something more productive.

I just realized that I haven't posted anything for almost a week, but I have a good excuse. When I wasn't setting the tree back up, I was out Christmas shopping in the freezing cold. Actually, I wasn't shopping since the Three Wise Kings are the ones who do that; I was merely out beating off frenzied shoppers with a stick to come home with bags full of "ideas" for the Three Wise Kings, and hiding those "ideas" in safe places around the house. People say they have no money, but to judge from the density of shoppers per square meter, they are either lying or their concept of "no money" differs greatly from mine. We have this great little word here to describe the malls full of people: apestado. This can either mean "stinky" or "crowded", and to me it sounds like the word pest, which is what all these people are. All of Pamplona is "apestado" with shoppers who could care less if they get in your way or if you were before them in line, all they care about is spending their "nonexistent" cash as fast as they can, and if they have to step on somebody to do it, so be it. Great Christmas spirit, eh?

We'll be leaving in less than a week to visit my in-laws, so all the "idea" shopping has to be done before that, because even though the Three Wise Kings don't come to our house until New Years (we're weird and that's why they don't visit on the 6th of January like for everybody else), we don't want to fill the car with "ideas". So, they have to be bought and wrapped before we leave, ready and waiting for us to come back in time to celebrate the New Year in our own weird way. This means more shopping in the freezing cold for me next week, which doesn't appeal to me in the least since I have a horrible cold and I feel like something the dung beetle just rolled in. Or as I would say in Spanish, "Me siento como una mierda pinchada en un palo." (I feel like shit on a stick...why on a stick? I have no idea, but it sounds much worse than regular shit.) I'm crossing my fingers and hoping to be better in time to get everything done, including finding some place to leave my tree-happy cat, sending out all my Christmas cards, going to my kids' Christmas program, and packing everyone's clothes. Looks like this Christmas is going to be a Corte Inglés Christmas, since it's the best place for one-stop shopping (and it's nice and warm inside). And for all your humor shopping, stop at Central Snark, your one-stop humor shop. It's even free - what more could you ask for?


  1. Your Jan 1 present delivery makes a lot of sense as a strategy to avoid the "we want presents on both days" that American culture is introducing to Spain.

    I, on the other hand, have the wife's birthday on Dec 30 to contend with as well as Navidad and Reyes. Sigh...

    Does Olentxero make it down into Navarra? Or are you not that Basque?

  2. I like you. I really do. But I laughed at the "it's cold".

    Don't worry, I'm just a bit cynical... It's - 25C and I csn't get out of the house because we have at least 60cm of snow. And it's still blizzard as I speak.

    That said, I know that cold in Europe and cold here are two different things... I used to find it really cold with 0C in France. Countries in Europe aren't build for snow ;)

  3. Don't you say shit on a stick in English? I can't say I use the phrase often, but it exists...I wonder if it is a translation from Spanish that got accepted and spread around?

    It isn't quite that cold here, we are still above freezing, but the room width delightful in summer spread of single pane glass just doesn't keep it warm the way it is in Canada, and the tile floor. My oh my.

  4. i say hang the tree upside down from the ceilign so the cats can't get at it. i saw that idea in some sort of upscale magazine. what the heck, at least you don't trip on it. maybe bang your head on it though.

    as for shit on a stick...the better to smear others with it...

  5. The horizontal tree would work in Miami. After all the hurricanes, we are so used to that look.

    You crack me up with the mierda on a stick comment. OMG! I say that all the time and my American husband's like WHAT?! After 16 years of marriage nothing that comes out of my mouth surprises him much anymore, but in the beginning, those kinds of comments really freaked him out.

    What about, "Me cago en las madres de los tomates?" Try translating that to a Bostonian!

    Happy Holidays con los gatos y la gente "apestosa!" ;)

  6. Erik: We started doing it this way because New Years was when everybody was home at my parents-in-law's house, and that way we could do a kind of secret Santa thing (amigo invisible). But we stopped doing that since we don't all fit in the house and have to take turns visiting. At least now we don't have to cart the presents back and forth, they just stay in Pamplona. Some people do the Olentxero thing here, but we don't. My husband is from Cáceres, so there's nothing Basque about him, and after all the nationalist shit he gets at the university, he's totally turned off by the whole thing and doesn't want to have a thing to do with it. So, when do you guys do all your presents? Christmas, then the birthday and again on Reyes?

    Zhu: Oh, I know this cold is nothing, but lots of people think Spain is sunny and warm all the time which isn't the case. I guess it's all relative and in Canada these are probably early Spring sort of temperatures, but I'm sure the houses are much better insulated over there than here. Our house loses heat faster than you can say "below zero", so we spend a fortune trying to keep warm. Anyway, I hope your blizzard is over soon so you can go out again, although are you sure you want to go out with those temps? :)

    Orneta: The first time I heard that expression was here, but maybe in some places people do say it in English. In any case, it's quite a colorful expression, wherever it came from. So, does it go below zero where you are? You're right about the houses not keeping in the heat as well as in other places.

    Lime: That's an idea, but I have the feeling that my flimsy plaster ceiling would probably colapse with the weight of it. :)

    Scarlet: "Me cago en la madre de los tomates." That's a good one, but I guess it would be hard to translate. There's nothing like Spanish for colorful expressions. Happy holidays to you too. :)

  7. Aha. My in-laws are extremeños too, but they raised their kids in Guipuzcoa, so they were forced to adopt Olentxero.

    We tend to not give anything on Reyes and open presents on Xmas and then a present for the cumpleañera on the 30th. We did the secret santa thing on Reyes a few years ago with the family, which led to a lot of laughs and crappy presents.

  8. I'm going to invent a software package and combine it with one of those projector thingys so next year I can have a virtual tree that I just project onto a wall. The software will be to add ornaments and decorate it any way I want; perhaps even rotating the decor each day.

  9. I didn't realize it got that cold in Spain. I lived there four years, as a little tike, though, and I do remember having a favorite
    pair of gloves. (smile)

    Stay warm!