Although it was a bummer I wasn't able to be home with my family for the holidays, I feel so fortunate to have wonderful friends in Madrid who have become my family here.
The last day of school was on the 22nd, but it was more of a Christmas celebration before the break. In the morning all the parents came to the school and watched each class perform Christmas carols-one in English and one in Spanish. It was cute hearing all our Christmas carols with a Spanish twist and also learning new Spanish carols, which are called villancicos.
Once the kids went home all the teachers rallied to start our own celebrations. We went to a local restaurant for lunch, which then turned into us bar hopping. Our Christmas lunch quickly turned into an 8 hour outing. It is always fun hanging out with my co-workers. They are all so welcoming- my principal emphasized to me and the other American assistants that if we ever feel lonely to call her because she wanted us to know that despite being far from our families and home we are not alone here.
Here are some pictures of the beautiful Christmas decorations in Madrid:
On Christmas Eve, we had dinner with Justin Robles mom, who is visiting from California! We had a great time and shared lots of laughs. After dinner we went to midnight mass, which is something I have never been to. It was interesting seeing all the rituals that went on.
On Christmas Day, Maggie's parents came into town. After being friends with Maggie for two years, Justin and I were looking forward to meeting some of her family! That morning we sipped on hot chocolate, coffee and tea while opening presents. Maggie's parents were so sweet to even bring gifts for Justin and I. Later on in the day Justin Robles and his mom came over. It was nice having parents around on the holidays-Justin and I were worried we would feel like orphans this Christmas but luckily it was quite the opposite! I was able to skype with my parents, Johnny and my grandpa which was wonderful. Except for the fact that every other sentence that came out of my mom's mouth was that I need to move home. :)
Here in Madrid we were lucky to celebrate New Years Eve twice! Each year thousands of people head to the center of Madrid, Puerta del Sol, to watch the clock strike twelve (Madrid's equivalence to Times Square). Since it is such a big deal here, they do a trial run on the 30th of December. So us and our friends rallied and headed out to Sol on the 30th to prep for New Years Eve. Instead of kissing at midnight, the Spanish have a tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight for good luck. You are supposed to eat a grape each time the clock chimes, but here in Spain the grapes have seeds so you can imagine how hard this is. If you eat all 12 then you will have 12 months of good luck but I decided to settle for 4 months of good luck. On the 30th you aren't supposed to eat the grapes, instead you bring something else to practice with such as peanuts or candies. We decided to bring M&M's and we clearly didn't think it through because we got peanut M&M's. So, we couldn't keep up with everyone. The grape tradition started in Spain because one year there was a huge grape harvest, so the King gave everyone grapes to eat on New Years Eve.
pre-New Years eve:
For the actual New Years Eve, we went to dinner with one of my American co-workers and a group of 15 English people. They were all very fun and friendly! We then ventured out to Sol for round two with what felt like millions of other people. Once midnight struck we ventured to my friends place that was nearby and unfortunately due to the late night we had the previous night, I was asleep by 1:30. I woke up at 8 the next morning unaware to the fact that I had slept through a whole party- I hope this isn't a reflection of what 2012 will be for me!
I am looking forward to what 2012 has to offer! I think it is going to be a GREAT year! And I am excited that I get to start off the year with a visit from my baby brother, who will be here in a week!! :)