It’s often said that the holidays are exhausting. All that visiting with relatives, worrying about what gifts to purchase for whom, traveling between houses, and then there is the preparation and consumption of all that food!
This being my first holiday spent in Portugal, I was without any of my family members or friends from home. It seemed as if I would be destined to wallow in loneliness, sadness and self-pity, kicking myself for ever leaving the comfy confines of my home and the loving arms of my family and friends.
Turned out, I wasn’t allowed to even consider being alone or sad for even a few minutes during the exceptionally long and event-filled celebration of Christmas and New Year’s – certainly not when included in every holiday meal and get-together hosted by ‘my Portuguese family.’
With a day trip to Porches to see the beautiful pottery in the middle of this week (to be reported in a later blog post,) it was now time for the actual Christmas holidays!
I first have to share with you the misunderstanding that occurred. I was under the impression that I was invited to Christmas Day dinner at Grandma & Grandpa’s so on Christmas Eve I had a bowl of soup and 1/2 a sandwich and drank a glass of wine at about 6 p.m. I was settled down with the choice of a good mystery or watching another episode of Jessica Jones on Netflix.
I was in sweats and a t-shirt and looking my normal, stay-at-home grubby self when there was a knock on the door. There was Jorge asking if I were ready. Ready for what, I asked? Dinner and presents, he said. Huh? I said. A quick call to his daughter, the one who speaks perfect English, to have her explain that not only was I dining with the family tomorrow but had been invited for tonight as well. We would be opening our presents, as is the custom, at the stroke of midnight. Get in the car, says Jorge. NO! I said – and tell him to go home and I would follow in 20 minutes!
Off to the shower, hair, make-up, a nice outfit, scurrying up the hill to Jorge and Maria Joao’s home for lot of wine, a huge dinner which began at 9 p.m. (you do remember I said I had eaten dinner at 6), numerous desserts and after-dinner drinks, gift-giving at midnight, home in bed by 1:30 a.m. and up the next morning to make deviled eggs and sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows for my contribution to the Christmas Day feast held at Grandma & Grandpas home – which started at 2 p.m – and included many more members of the family!
Here are just a few photos from those two events –
Then it was time to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a big dinner with family and friends, head to the church on the highest hill in town to watch the fireworks explode over the river in Portimao while drinking champagne and eating 12 raisins (a wish for each month is made as you eat each raisin) and lastly, a New Year’s Day luncheon.
My 12-raisen New Years Resolution – STOP EATING!!
But you know all about resolutions, don’t you? The Portuguese do not stop celebrating until January 5th, which is the birthday of The 3 Kings which requires….a large dinner with family and friends! By this time, I just couldn’t take one more photo of food – sorry. Take my word when I say the cod was delicious, the desserts were sweet and the wine continued to flow!
It is now the 11th of January and I still need to share with you the beautiful photos of my visit to Porches and Faro but that will have to wait as I am off to SPAIN! I was invited to join 2 American couples for a trip to Granada to tour the Alhambra and then to Seville. I’ll be gone for 7 days and I am really looking forward to what will be my last excursion of any distance before I depart Portugal on the 30th of January.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and wishing you nothing but joy and happiness in the New Year!
Unitl next time….