Is it too early for the holidays?

Frankly, 2020 has been the pits and I’m ready for the good bits* to start. Granted, the fall is part of that—the time of year when the leaves change and, in certain parts of the world, have our jaws dropping at the balls-out beauty of nature. With The Rona wreaking havoc on the world, and Madrileños and Madrileñas being locked in the city, I haven’t been leaving my place much. I’ve occasionally peeked out the windows and over the tree-line to see what the nearby urban park is up to in terms of fall colors. But I haven’t been able to see anything good yet.

So, while Fall is fab, I’m really excited about Christmas (insert excited shriek here). One could interpret this yen for Christmas as just a general eagerness for 2020 to be over, honestly though, who’s to say 2021 won’t be just as heinous? But back to the holiday love. One thing about the holiday season that makes me lose all grip on my sanity is the street food of roasted chestnuts (castañas).

Photo by Point Blanq on Unsplash

The first time I had roasted chestnuts was during a visit to Madrid a couple of years ago. Before that fateful night, I’d always smelled a certain delicious aroma coming from stalls randomly set up on street corners. In the beginning, I had no idea what it was, only that I was intrigued. And hungry. When I finally took a chance and ate some, my world was changed…FOREVER. Since that first taste, every time I pass certain street corners, I make sure to have enough change for those blessed vendors.

Madrid holiday lights.

Another aspect of the holiday season I love is—THE LIGHTS!! For me, they’re almost as exciting as fireworks. There’s nothing like wandering through the city and following the trail of bright lights and displays through archways and down streets I’d never explored before. As a newbie to Madrid, that was a fantastic way for me to discover new parts of the city. Back then, it all seemed too vast and confusing—the calles, avenidas, barrios, esquinas, etc. Now that I’m in my 3rd year here, I can see how close and connected the neighborhoods are. Thanks in part to the Christmas lights. And I absolutely love it.

In this year of corona, I’m assuming there will be some changes to the experience of lights and castañas. There likely won’t be as many people out in the streets, the annual Christmas market in Plaza Mayor might be cancelled, and a few of the regular chestnut venders may decide Madrid isn’t the best place for them to be right now. Whatever this new version of the season brings, I’m totally here for it, and ready for some 2020 joy.

What are you looking forward to this year?

*Completely as an aside, an excerpt from my short story The Magical Femme appears on The Good Bits podcast. Check it out and leave a review, if you’re so moved.

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