Spain is a great place to be for the holiday’s for lots of reasons (not to mention the travel opportunities that abound with such a long time off school), but one really sticks out for me.  In Spain, the commercialization of Christmas, especially in provincial cities and towns, is almost nonexistent.  In many department stores and malls in the US, the cheer of Christmas has already worn off by the time December 25th rolls around.  Forget enjoying the beauty of Fall or taking one holiday at a time.  As soon as the air turns crisp (heck in Alabama, while we are still sweltering in late October heat) Santa Claus is ringing a bell at your local Wal-Mart and Macy’s is advertising for Black Friday.

While the absence of a commercial Christmas in Laredo is refreshing, the lack of holiday buzz falls a little flat.  Although the lights have been strung around town, they won’t be lit until the week before Christmas.  Spain is suffering a crisis, hello? Saving where you can is alright by me. But, I do like to enjoy the cheer that is spread for the 25 days of Christmas. Goodness, it hasn’t even gotten cold here yet!  We’re still enjoying mild 50 degree weather. It sure doesn’t feel like December 7th. I guess I am also missing the decorations that families put out around Christmastime. No lights glitter along the rooftops, no candles are lit to radiate peacefully from windows, no Christmas trees dance and twinkle from inside warm, cheery homes. While I am sure this isn’t true all over Spain, Laredo has seemed a little bleak. As much as I’d like to decorate, we’ve just deemed it a little unreasonable.  No extra funds plus no feasible way to carry decorations we buy here home to the States would equal waste, I guess.

Who am I kidding, I really like the 25 day of Christmas!  I am really going to miss the annual Christmas musical at First Baptist of Decatur this year and even more, I’ll miss singing Christmas carols at church on Sunday mornings in December.  Someone hold an extra candle for me at the candlelight service, please?  I’ll miss the smells and activity in the kitchen at home too- spice cookies and peppermint bark, 7-layer bars, caramel corn and maybe snickerdoodles.  The smell of evergreen is a perfect holiday scent too.  Decorating the tree always seems like its a pain, but enjoying it afterward always makes it worth it (I think, Mom? what do you say?)

Christmas for me will be quite different this year.  We’ll have visitors and we’ll go on a trip we have been planning for a while now.  It will also be my first Christmas married, my second abroad, but my first without my mom, dad, brother and silly pets.  Thankfully, the message that resonates in our hearts will still be the same:  that the Savior of the World was born on Christmas day and brothers and sisters in Christ everywhere will rejoice in unison. He is the real reason we celebrate on Christmas day!