So we got the third Jab on Monday. It was fine. I felt a little under the weather. Jeff more so. But we are back to normal, and feeling invincible! Not.
The news here is saying a bout of Omicron, combined with three vaccine doses might have ‘super-immunity’ effects. But like everything else, they really have no data, and no idea yet. Omicron was going to ravage us all. Even the vaccinated. But now, while terribly virulent, it seems that we have less people in the hospitals or ICU’s than we did last summer. And most of those going into hospital are coming out. They are not dying at anywhere near the rate of those poor people in 2020 or early 2021. The vaccines are holding back the tide of serious illness in Spain. Good news.
But people are still suffering, and not just from contracting the virus. My restauranteur friend, Conchi, is at the end of her rope. There have been few restrictions on dining during this wave. But the Pilgrims are gone until next Spring, and all her reservations for Christmas and New Years were cancelled. Sadly, she had already bought all the food for a packed house. Many people who live in the cities, but have homes in Melide, decided not to travel to spend the holidays here.
‘I think this is it.’ She told us, throwing her hands in the air with tears in her eyes. ‘All this food and no one to serve it to. No one to pay. We have exhausted our reserves,’.
She asked us to stop by on New Year’s Eve. ‘It will be just us three’ waving to the expanse of the restaurant. ‘We can wear masks and you can eat twelve grapes at midnight. For luck.’ Then she laughed at the irony of her words. But she needs all the luck she can get.
It was tough to see her so distraught. But people are afraid. We never stopped wearing our masks outdoors here. No mandates were required in a population of people mostly over 50. You could always tell who was not from here, like Pilgrims. They were the only maskless on the street. Restrictions from the government are not necessary here in rural Galicia. People self regulate. The streets are deserted, except the farmacias and the grocery stores. No one can rock a home confinement like the Spaniards. Even self-initiated.
Our town square had some decorations. And Correos had a mailbox for Papa Noel. Yet it all felt a bit halfhearted this year.
But it is still the holiday season in Spain. We are right in the midst of the twelve days of Christmas. All the way to January 6th – Dia de Los Reyes. Three Kings Day. Kids in Spain have not been able to visit Melchor, Gaspar and Balthazar. In the US we would call them The Three Wise Men.
At Christmas 2019 you could go to the mall and visit the Three Kings. In Spain, they are more popular than Santa Claus. They get their own huge parades on the night of January 5th. In Valencia, they came by boat on the Mediterranean. Then they were paraded through the streets in the procession of all processions. It was truly incredible. The big red mailbox is where children who hand their letters to helpers below the three kings see them deposited. Here are pics I took from the last one held pre-pandemia in Valencia.
Then the Kings are received by the Ayuntamiento (town hall) to bless the children. The kids go home and put their shoes out. Upon waking on January 6th, they discover their favorite King has brought their hearts desire and filled their shoes with candy and presents. It’s really fun.
Last year the Three Kings were brought into the Ayuntamiento on an open air double decker bus so the kids could stand on their balconies to wave at them. Then go inside to watch their arrival on local tv. But word quickly spread and 10,000 people filled the square in front of the Ayuntamiento to watch the kings arrive. It became a chaotic Covid super spreader event.
We are trying to keep the holiday spirit alive here on the farm. I got ambitious and spent an entire day baking. All the family recipes, except I lost them all in the move, so I had to mix them from memory. Jeff sampled a few 😉 and says I nailed it. ‘These are even better than before.’ Perhaps its because last year he got no Christmas cookies. I was in the hospital. Christmas 2020 was a tasteless meal with him sleeping on a cot in my room.
But this year, I decided to share and we are delivering cookies to neighbors and friends. We offended our neighbors in Valencia with our cookies that first Christmas after we moved to Spain. They didn’t know us and wondered what our agenda was giving them cookies. But somehow, I don’t think that will be the case here. Marie Carmen received her cookie package with a big smile. To all the people who have been so kind to us since we moved to Galicia. A Huge Thank You. You’ll never know the difference you have made in our lives.
I think we can deliver the cookies masked up and safe. There is no way to change what is happening right now. People are hurting. But in this town they are our people. Perhaps, right about now, something small and homemade, from the heart, is just the right medicine. ❤️