La cesta

Christmas has hit Madrid in a big way. Lights are everywhere (Madrid apparently has spent several times the money on lights as any other Spanish city), the belén (nativity) has been constructed in the entrance of my school, stores are open on Sundays, Papa Noel climbs store fronts and dangles from apartment windows. (The other day I witnessed a three-year old boy yelling up to a stuffed Santa perched above a store awning. He was telling him what he wanted for Christmas. His mother looked on patiently.)

Even in workplaces the joys are many. Yesterday I lugged home my cesta de navidad (“Christmas basket”) from the security company where I teach classes three hours a week. For my three hours, I get the same cesta as the full-time employees. Not a bad deal.

It was so heavy, however, that I almost expired carrying it through the metro and the four blocks to my apartment. Thankfully one of my students gave me a ride to a metro station just a couple stops (and the same line) from where I live (normally it’s a 45-minute trip with a long walk between two different lines). But Oh. My. God. Said basket contains six bottles of various libations: 3 wines (two red, one white), 2 bottles of cava (Catalán champagne), and one of whiskey. Then you’ve got four tablets of turrón–a typical Spanish Christmas sweet made out of almonds–, cookies, chocolate covered almonds, and cans of olives, hearts of palm, pineapple, and peaches.

The cesta is tradition here in almost every company. My roommate got one too: with a jamón (that is, a cured pig’s leg) and cheese, among other things. My students at the security company, though, were complaining about the one we received. One of them said, “Well, the wine is drinkable.”

I don’t care. I’m thrilled.


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