A very merry Christmas season.

Christmas season is still in full swing here in Spain, and will be through the 6th of January, Día de los Reyes (King's Day), when the three kings/magi parade through the streets and throw children candy and families gather to watch children open their gifts. Until then, the lights stay up, the trees remain decorated, and you may even glimpse some of the magi walking through the streets (I'm guessing this was a dress rehearsal that I viewed this morning when I walked out the door):

School was busy leading up to the break. There were candy canes and gingerbread men to color (students), gingerbread houses to construct (yours truly), and a few activities to prepare for my classes. Teaching second graders words like evaporation and condensation and precipitation in a second language meant singing a song and dancing, because even then, it's still all Greek but at least we had fun.

When in doubt, have kids color. They love it. And I like quiet time in the hallway decorating the wall...but shhhh, don't tell!

When in doubt, have kids color. They love it. And I like quiet time in the hallway decorating the wall...but shhhh, don't tell!

When in doubt, I color. Because it's so much fun. And yes, those clouds ARE 3D; thanks for noticing!

When in doubt, I color. Because it's so much fun. And yes, those clouds ARE 3D; thanks for noticing!

I did not know that Severus Snape attended this elementary school! He left his dictionary. (I'm finally getting around to reading Harry Potter--only a decade late!--so I can make nerdy jokes like this.)

I did not know that Severus Snape attended this elementary school! He left his dictionary. (I'm finally getting around to reading Harry Potter--only a decade late!--so I can make nerdy jokes like this.)

One really big deal here in Spain is having a belén (manger scene) in many places, especially in schools and some churches. I've noticed that they, well, have a different feel here than the traditional manger scene I'm accustomed to. Ours growing up had the three wise men, a couple of shepherds, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. The belén at our school was a little bit busier. It's definitely pretty impressive, but it's like playing "Where's Waldo?" to find the central people in the scene! Have a look:

If this is the busiest manger scene you've ever viewed, welcome to the club.

If this is the busiest manger scene you've ever viewed, welcome to the club.

We did not try out this speciality for our Christmas dinner (cochinillo), tempting as it looked at the grocery store; I cooked chicken instead. I like pork, but I can't eat a baby pig...reminds me too much of Zoology class in 12th grade.

We did not try out this speciality for our Christmas dinner (cochinillo), tempting as it looked at the grocery store; I cooked chicken instead. I like pork, but I can't eat a baby pig...reminds me too much of Zoology class in 12th grade.

Now look at something pretty:

The Christmas tree in the central plaza.

The Christmas tree in the central plaza.

We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas day celebration with our friends Joe and Leah who, like us, didn't return to the U.S. It was a great time of catching up on stories from trips, school (always chock-full of stories), and daily life. It is such a blessing to have friends here and it was a fun time of looking back over the past few months to recount all that we've seen and done in a short amount of time. 

Our Christmas dinner table. Covering our table in brown paper and writing "Merry Christmas" in different languages is a very cheap way to decorate and a super easy way to clean up quickly!

Our Christmas dinner table. Covering our table in brown paper and writing "Merry Christmas" in different languages is a very cheap way to decorate and a super easy way to clean up quickly!

Nearly-free table decorations.

Nearly-free table decorations.

OK, so I didn't do as well this year with my planned reading for Advent (sigh), but I did enjoy listening to some sermons that I'd recommend to you. I'd even recommend listening to them as the New Year starts, because Advent isn't just something we celebrate and ponder in December--we still anticipate Christ's final coming! I liked Reality Church San Francisco's set of sermons on Advent found here: Advent and the Kingdom of God (#107), Advent and Waiting in Faith (#106), Advent and the Prophets (#105), Advent and Worshipping the King (#104), and Advent and Living in the Already but Not Yet (#103).

I hope you are enjoying this Christmas season! New Year's is nearly upon us. Look for more posts soon about our recent trip to Belgium, what's on the bookshelf, and adventures with our friend, Ashley, who arrives from the U.S. tomorrow!