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Monday, December 12, 2005

Christmas is coming?

One thing Christmas doesn't come here with is snow. It can come with dust though; yesterday it did; red dust from the Sahara, commonly known here as the Calima, setting anyone prone that way to wheezing. Ashmatics, bronchitics bring out their sprays, their inhalers; contrary to what you think these so-called ideal-climate-islands are not good for people with chest problems; the reverse. Granny does not suffer from chest problems. She does get a type of hay-fever though which meant she spent most of the weekend coughing, spluttering, sneezing and growling at her Beloved who took it very well all things considered.

Otherwise the island is gearing itself up to Christmas - Navidades: Births. Only one you'd think - Granny doesn't know why it's plural in Spanish. All much less commercial here, thank goodness, though father Christmases, fir trees and the like are appearing on paper in shop windows and in lights strung from streetlights, not lit as yet. The supermarkets are selling Christmas goodies like turron - a kind of nougat cake in many flavours. No doubt in the week before Christmas the biggest supermarket will bring out its well-worn tape of schoolchildren singing Jingle Bells etc in Spanish, but not yet, thank god, not yet. Christmas here does not start in October. We've only just got over last week's fiestas after all - El Constitucion and the Immaculate Conception, one day apart, effectively turfing the whole island out onto the beaches most of the week. How those running businesses must love it.

What does happen here every Christmas is the setting up of the Christmas cribs - the Belenes - Bethlehems - one for every administrative area; some much bigger and more elaborate than others. The Belen in Granny's local town used to be a crude affair, one of the roughest, thrown up against a wall on a piece of waste ground. The waste ground over the past year and a half has been tarmacked over and turned into a car park. Very convenient. Except that for the moment the cars have been turfed out again and forced to park in the street. The entire area is in the process of being turned into a mini island landscape with little paths and mini-volcanoes and a group of neat little buildings made of bloques and painted over - a whole Canarian Bethehem in miniature. What is yet to be revealed is whether the figures of the people in the mini fields, the mini streets, in the stable itself, will be the same as before - mass-produced figures in biblical robes - or whether they will have had special figures made, dressed in local dress as in the more upmarket Belen in the south of the island. Certainly at the moment our town hall seems to be heading for the high ground, Belenes-speaking. Just how high we will see,

But then our local town hall is very competitive. For the past two years their Christmas piece-de-resistance, out-gunning everything else on the island has been the display of lights on the roundabout leading into the town. Two years ago there was a whole oasis of palm trees visible from miles along the road, flashing bright greens. Last year there was an enormous turning windmill. This year we've got Father Christmas - red - monstrous - but headless as yet - who will undoubtedly be appearing to move if not dance; Granny wouldn't put it past them to have him singing too: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer? In Spanish of course. Very inventive our town-hall; as well as competitive.

More mundanely; Daisy the hen is back in her run and flourishing, along with Damien-Daphne as big as ever, but still clucking. He/she seems to be Daisy's mate, gender no matter. Granny and Beloved don't think - for Daisy's sake - they can possibly eat her. Shame.

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