Merry Christmas from Spain!! It’s been so fun to be back with the family after being away at university for the past 4 months. Since the adventure isn’t over yet, we reunited in southern Spain just in time for Christmas.
I love being in Spain for Christmas. As a primarily Catholic country, most of the Christmas festivities are focused around the Nativity story, especially the three kings (or wise men). Almost every Cathedral and Government building we pass has a nativity on display, and I have hardly seen any mention of Santa, elves, or reindeer. I like the focus on Jesus’s birth, because, after all, He is the reason for the season! We participated in Spanish Christmas traditions by going to midnight mass at the Seville Cathedral, the third largest church in the world (I honestly can’t describe how huge and beautiful it is inside. This was an incredible opportunity). Mass was an interesting new experience, but I enjoyed it despite the unfamiliar language and customs. Again, I appreciated everyone’s focus on Jesus at Christmas time and their show of faith by going to church on Christmas Eve.
In addition to all the lights, decorations, and nativities around the cities, we had our own Christmas Eve celebrations with the family. My favorite thing we did was play a homemade game kind of like Catchphrase. Each of us took small slips of paper and wrote a word. In the game, we picked papers out of a bowl, and then we had to describe that keyword and the family would guess. Whoever got through the most slips of paper in a minute was the winner of the round. In addition to the competition and playfulness of the game, what made it so fun was how personalized it was. All the keywords we wrote down were people, places, food, jokes, or experiences from our travels as a family. One interesting thing was how many times random people or things were included by different members of the family. For example, Gary, a guy we met on the side of the road who is cycling around the world, was included the game at least two times. So was Emily, an 18-year-old girl from Canada who was working at a hostel in the middle of nowhere, New Zealand to save money so she could travel. Barfkok, our affectionate nickname for Bangkok where we all got sick, was also in the pile of papers multiple times. I think that To Sua Ocean trench, a gorgeous swimming hole in Samoa, was on at least 5 different papers.
As 2016 and our family adventure comes to a close, it is a time for reflection and remembering. Our Christmas Eve game was a fun way to think back on our travels from the year and see what each person chose to write down on their slips of paper. As my dad always says, “My favorite holiday tradition is doing something different every year!” Here’s to the new year, new countries, and new traditions.