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Mr Grumpy Goes Christmas Shopping

By Mr Grumpy - Fri 23rd Dec 2011

Last year I blogged about the Horrors of Attending Expat Christmas ‘Fayres’ and, after 12 months of reflection, I have to admit that I stand by every word.

Christmas as an expat in Spain is oddly surreal. Nowhere in Spain, it seems, hardly celebrates Christmas at all, except for the odd bar having a mangy Christmas tree in it, and even then it seems to be exclusively for the benefit of their expat clientele.

However, there is a massive contingent of Expat’s over here who make matters worse by going completely over the top and over-compensating for this lack of festivity.

Expat bloody Christmas Fayres on every sodding street corner, selling the same old crap that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. (‘Chuck in a Santa’s Grotto and a stall selling Mince Pies and nobody will ever know...’).

You just can’t get a happy medium. One minute there isn't a flake of fake-snow or a bauble in sight, the next minute it’s like you are living in Lapland.

So when the Mrs dragged me out to our local shopping mall for my one-yearly visit under duress, I half expected to feel a little bit of the old Christmas Cheer, and to be honest with you was quite looking forward to hearing Slade and Cliff Richard Ad Nauseum as I dodged the Christmas decorations up and down the malls.

But when I got there there was not so much as slice of Stollen or a Christmas themed Speciality coffee to be seen anywhere. Not a light, not a decoration, not a snowflake. It was like shopping in ‘The Grinch’s’ hometown.

So feeling about as christmassy as a Jehova’s Witness we set about getting the stuff on our shopping list. ( We are not normally this anal but wrote the list incase we got giddy with excitement at buying all the Christmas goodies and forgot to buy the toilet roll...)

Fire Lighters; Lightbulbs; Chestnuts; a Chicken; Parsnips and a telephone split-socket (An eclectic mix, granted)

Now, in the UK there are usually three places that you can guarantee you will be force-fed Christmas Cheer whether you like it or not : Your local Pub, The Supermarket and the Shopping Mall. The latter two normally commencing their celebration of Christmas in September.

So, given that a major Supermarket chain comprised almost half of the shopping centre I was certain that Christmas consumerism would have seduced the marketing department of Eroski, and I would have to fight my way past the Christmas Crackers, tubs of Quality Street and bottles of QC to get all the things on my list.

Nada. The only nod to Christmas in any way whatsoever was two isles of bounty stretching half the length of the store. On one side were boxes of those Polverones (Horrible biscuits made from Almonds, bone dry and turn to dust as soon as you look at them, let alone get one anywhere near to your mouth. Also – why do they have so many varieties? – The size , shape and color of the wrapper may differ but basically they all taste the same ?), Turron (Nougat made from Honey and Almond), and Marzipan Sweets ( Made from Almonds.... do you think there is a recurring theme here ?)

On the other isle were nuts and other dried fruits (But mainly Almonds) – Yet no Chestnuts!

(Neither did this Eroski ‘Superstore’ have such exotic things as a lighbulb in their homeware section, a Telephone Socket in their Electrical section, Firelighters in the Drogeria isle or any Parsnips in their Fruit & veg section.

Fortunately, a detour to our local Chinese shop got us everything that we required. Oh, and the devout Buddhists were even playing Christmas carols. At least somebody can get something right, but asking a devout Catholic country to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus must be a big ask...

I swear to god, watching Die Hard 2 last night on DVD was the closest I have come to feeling Christmassy this year.

Comment on this Blog


Well for the 6th year running just me & Mrs Grumpy had a quiet one at home (with our daughter for the last 4 years aswell of course) - flying back to the UK for the 1st time in well over a year tomorrow to have a 'second Xmas' on the Costa del Calderdale on the Yorkshire Riviera.

As for doing stand up, I find it difficult to keep myself amused most of the time, let alone for the benefit of others.

And I don't take very well to hecklers.

Mr Grumpy - Tue, 27th Dec 2011
You should do stand up comedy Mr. Grumpy! Know what you mean about the polvorones, the ARE all the same! As for going on too long, a Spanish acquaintance of mine went off to a winter retreat in the Sierra with 40 relatives for two weeks to celebrate Christmas/Reyes. I´d go stark raving bonkers, I´d never get out alive.
Mo - Tue, 27th Dec 2011

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