This year, Christmas is unlike any most of us have ever known. Depending upon where we live we might be in strict lockdowns or just wearing masks and social distancing. But none of it is normal.
I have friends in the UK who are now under total lockdown with Brexit looming. Not really sure when or if they can get back to Valencia. Its all up in the air. One couple got stuck there for 4 months after their daughter’s wedding in early March.
Visiting our local centro commercial this past weekend gave us a fresh perspective on pandemic Santa-ing. It seems at Nuevo Centro visiting Santa this year involves on child standing in front of a video screen where a digital santa dances and says things before the attendant directs the child to put their heartfelt letter of their deepest desire along the toy line, into the slot. All whilst parents take their own photos. Its no drunken Montgomery Wards Santa experience from my childhood.
There was no sign of the set up for the 3 Kings visits. Melcoir, Balthazar and Gaspar are taking a break this year, it seems. Last year they were bigger than Santa. The big parade for 3 Kings in January isn’t happening this year. Valencia’s being the oldest in Spain, kids will have to perform the ritual of cleaning their shoes and putting them outside after a bribe of milk, water and almond nugget. Hoping one of these guys coughs up the goods without seeing them on parade the night before.
Its no wonder, as restrictions in Valencia are tightest. We are the only province still on perimeter lockdown. And Fallas won’t happen in March, either. According to the newspaper, they’re looking at alternatives – maybe July.
Its not all doom and gloom, though. I have great news! I won the El Gordo! Yes, you heard me. €20 are all mine in the lottery after all the fanfare yesterday. Villages are going bananas after hitting it big in the numbers. My little win didn’t have me breaking out the champagne.
I waited until they’d all been called before unsealing the envelope the lottery lady sealed with a glitter heart and wished me good luck as she handed it over. So I covered my costs. A fair trade for a few days of heightened anticipation.
Spending on the Christmas lottery this year was way down. Its run since 1812 through wars, other pandemics, and plenty of strife. This year people just don’t have the disposable income to burn on the chance to hit it big.
This year might be different but it’s made me reflect on past Christmases, and know that next year, when this is all over, we won’t take anything for granted.