Busy Time of Year… When you are 3 Years Old

One thing after another…

The little fella has certainly been busy lately. After meeting the Three Kings yesterday Dani went directly to the theatre to see a puppet show. The show was set up by the same cultural centre that staged the family rock concert recently.

We met Dani’s grandmother and his little cousin Susana who was with her other (paternal) grandmother. Susana is 3½ months older than Dani. That’s quite significant at that young age. She has loved watching cartoon movies for some time whereas Dani has only recently taken to them. Admittedly he is trying to make up for lost time with daily doses of Sleeping Beauty and Jungle Book! Basically I knew Susana would be riveted to the seat but I wasn’t sure if Dani would be restless.

Never shut up…

To say Dani loved the puppet show is an understatement. It was as if the rest of the audience was blind and he was giving them a running commentary. Every time a puppet “came to life” he shouted out what it was doing and what might happen. By the end of the show other kids – older than Dani – were doing the same.

It was a well planned performance by three puppeteers who made full use of the excellent stage setting and props. All amazingly free of charge. Well someone’s taxes will have paid for it all but “free at the point of entry” as they say. I have to say that by the end of the show I would have paid for it. It seems that the show was organised in a rush as some kind of dress rehearsal for another show they are performing tonight (or soon). Great opportunity – not missed!

Front Row…

Even better we had front row seats. Susana sat there, arms on the high (for her) armrests, excited but transfixed by the live performance. Pretty much as you would expect a three year old to be. Meanwhile Dani never kept still and was  extremely excited and animated the whole time. Sadly though there were not too many people there. It was a shame for the cast, but it gave them a chance to meet us all in the foyer after the show with some of their monster puppets. Even more excitement and animation for Dani !!

It had all been staged fairly last minute so not too many had heard about it. Fortunately Dani’s Spanish grandmother frequents the cultural centre so she tends to be aware of such events. Dani will certainly want to go back for more…

The Three Kings (Or; Going for Gold)

In Spain the traditional giving of Christmas presents is done on January 6th. The morning after the night of January 5th – aka twelfth night. This is the date that the three kings (or Magi, or even the three wise men) arrived bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Oro, incienso y mirra in Spanish. So based on the religious significance of Christmas – and specifically the giving of presents – this makes more sense than giving them out on Christmas day. Rather than the kids here going on about what they want from santa on Christmas day, they talk about what they want the three kings (los Reyes Magos) to bring them when they wake up on January 6th. This is a perfect example of Dani getting the best of both worlds. We will let him open some presents on Christmas morning and some on January 6th.

The kids’ Christmas Party…

When a Spanish workplace organises a Christmas party for the kids there is no fat bloke dressed as Santa Claus to speak to the them. Instead they get three blokes to play the three different kings. Their names are Melchior, Balthassar and Gaspar in case you didn’t know. At least it shares the workload of a solitary Santa.

Usually the older kids choose their favourite “king”. Dani “chose” Melchior. In reality he was ushered toward him by the “helpers” who were more or less acting as crowd control; although they too dressed up for the role. Now, Dani has obviously been told the story of The Three Kings, aka the Magi, in school. He has also been told about them often enough by his Spanish grandmother.

A Conversation with a “King”…

So, Dani sat on Melchior’s knee and the conversation went basically like this:

Melchior: What would you like for Christmas?

Dani: Gold

Melchior: Oh. That’s interesting. Anything else? (His face was a picture!)

Dani:  Frankincense

Melchior: Well, we normally give those for baby Jesus.

(Then sensing Dani was going to list all three traditional gifts he tried to head him off.)

Melchior: Do you want any toys?

Dani:  Myrrh is not a toy.

Melchior: No myrrh is not a toy. Do you want one of the presents we have here?

Dani: Yes

At this particular kids’ Christmas party all of the kids get the same present regardless of age. It makes life easy let’s face it! The presents were all wrapped in shiny, metallic, plain paper; half in silver half in gold. The king’s helper passed Dani one of those wrapped in gold paper. He was so happy. He had his gold. Dreams can come true especially if you ask one of the three kings in person. He didn’t even want to open it so there it sits under the tree till Christmas morning. Or maybe January 6th.

nav16_5-gold-gift

Myrrh? What is that anyway?

OK. We all know what gold is. Much less what frankincense is and hardly anyone seems to know what myrrh is, right? It’s one of those well versed jokes by unfunny “comedians” who don’t actually tell jokes but rather shout idiotic questions at their audience. “Myrrh!? What the hell is myrrh!!!”. (Cue phoney laughter.)

So here goes a quick old dad’s guide to both:

Frankincense is a milky white resin from the Boswellia tree that grow in the dry areas of the Arabian peninsula.  It is especially known for its aromatic fragrance.

Myrrh is a reddish resin that comes from a species of small tree called  Commiphora, which are native to northeast Africa and adjacent areas on the Arabian Peninsula. It has been used to make embalming oil.

Both were prized for their aromatic properties when daily bathing was unheard of.

Medicinal Use for Frankincense?

Back in the day both these oils were thought to have medicinal benefits. This could still be true today. Apparently, researchers at a University have demonstrated that frankincense has an active ingredient that can help relieve arthritis by inhibiting the inflammation that breaks down cartilage tissue and causes arthritic pain. It seems that this study validates traditional uses of frankincense as an herbal remedy for the treatment of arthritis in communities of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, where the trees that produce it grow. Researchers have also discovered possible benefits of myrrh in the treatment of gastric ulcers, tumours and parasites.

So, would the magi (supposedly from that part of the world) have known of frankincense’s healing properties when they presented it to the baby Jesus? If so, why would they think that such an important new born baby would be cursed with arthritis? Some food for thought there…. and something for Dani’s Auntie (my sister) who suffers from arthritis.

End of Term

So today is the last day of Dani’s first term of school. All the kids turned up dressed as shepherds or shepherdesses – is there even such a word? Changing the gender of a word in English sometimes makes the word sound made up. Well, to me it does. In Spanish it is pastores and pastoras. The Spanish easily slip the words between the masculine and feminine.

Waiting in the school yard Dani was in awe to see some of the teachers playing instruments and singing Christmas songs. One of them was his favourite teacher – Frau Silvia, his German teacher no less – playing the electric piano. Hard work on this cold Mardid winter morning.

I am not sure what they will be doing all dressed in the same costumes. It seems to me like they have exchanged one school uniform for another. If that sounds to you like it is coming directly from a cynical old dad then you would be wrong. I really enjoyed seeing all the kids turn up in their new uniforms. In any case the important thing is that the kids enjoy their last day before the Christmas holidays. I am sure Dani will enjoy it.

pastor-a              pastor-1

Rubbish photos I know. But this kid barely stands still long enough to take one so in reality these are not bad…

Another Rock Concert…

Last weekend Dani attended his second rock concert in as many weeks. This time it was set up by a local social and cultural centre (centro cultural) in the small theatre that is part of the facility. Great little setting but shame about the band. Not to be too harsh – they certainly could play etc – but it was missing something that the little pub concert last week had in bundles. Fun!

The group were called Music In Action (MIA). Missing in action more like. The fun part at least. They made an effort but they played mainly their own songs – which were average at best – and played the odd cover. Sadly the cover versions were of songs that would hardly excite a 3  year old. Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes being on of them. Yes. Exactly! WTF? I know. Save it for the football matches.

Dani almost fell asleep but I think that was just normal tiredness and the timing of the “concert” (about 6pm). It was billed as Concierto Familiar (family concert) – Rock & Learn;  but I think they forgot about the kids being part of the family. Still it could have been worse I suppose.

Back to today…

I am sure he will enjoy this last day of term. He has really settled into the school and more importantly his class. He now refers to them all as his amigos.  There will be many more last days of term and plenty more concerts for the lad.

Meanwhile, Dani’s Spanish cousin Susana is back from Venezuela for Christmas. They arrived yesterday fully jetlagged as you would expect; so we will see them after school today.  Another reason he is excited.

El Gordo…

Almost forgot. Yesterday I bought my first ever Christmas National Lottery ticket – El Gordo – the big (fat) one in English. Famed as being the biggest lottery in the world the draw takes place tomorrow. At €20 for one ticket no wonder there are so many prizes!

So here’s to good luck and fingers crossed. OK. I know in reality it is just another €20 down the drain…

Kids Really Rock

Last weekend Dan went to his first rock concert. Well to be exact it was a group performing in a bar especially for the kids although the parents seemed to enjoy it just as much. I certainly did.

I even knew one or two of the Spanish kids songs that they managed to rock up. I also realised that I do not know the words to that most common and simple of Christmas songs – Jingle Bells – which they sang in English.

Fanny who?

Dani has been trying to sing it for a week or so now as they are learning it in school. I more or less knew the first verse but the second verse was completely new to me. And who the hell is Fanny Bright anyway? How many of you know it I wonder?

They also played an old favourite for most adults and currently one of Dani’s most sung numbers – Bear Necessities, from the Jungle Book. Unfortunately they sang this one in Spanish and Dani has only ever heard it in English from the Disney cartoon.

rock-poster

The best thing about the concert was how much Dani loved it. He knew enough of the songs to sing along and generally had a great time.

The group was a five piece who performed under the name Rock and Roll Animals. They perform for adults only in similar venues but I don’t know what they are usually called.

Just to finish the show they performed a well known oldie especially for the mums to sing along to and it was one I remember well. Video Killed The Radio Star. a great end to a great show.

We will be looking out for more of those show…

The Times They Are A Changin. Or Are They?

Oops. Time has flown by so quickly that I never even managed to write about Dani’s third birthday. Suffice to say, at this rather late stage, that he had a great time and was visited by members of his UK family. Nanna, Auntie and cousin to be exact, with two great aunties in tow too.

Over a month has passed since I put fingers to keyboard. Where did that go? OK, I have been fairly busy with two trips back to the UK including one week with Dani. Those days fly by quicker than any others. There is never enough hours in a day to see all the people that you want to. Partly because they have work to go to so that really leaves only the evenings and weekends and those can be already fully booked. My original plan for this year was to spend alternate months between Spain and the UK which would have given more opportunity to visit people at weekends while over there. However that plan never materialised so we try to do what we can in the weekly slots. That said, I need to manage my time  a lot better. Any tips?

All the Christmas shopping has been done; with the help of the internet and gift vouchers of course. I have even been looking into returning to the workplace. Agh! Yes it is eleven months since I left the world of work. My plan (as much as there was one) was to take a year off work and that time is almost up. Never mind the past month. Where did the past eleven months go? I will admit that I am not looking forward to it but I have started reading and replying to work related emails. Yet I know it is inevitable.

Changin Times?

Just a quick mention about another earth shattering event that happened just before Dani’s 3rd birthday: The USA elected a new president; one Donald Trump. Actually it was hardly earth shattering despite the way some people are carrying on. In fact this old dad saw it coming. The times they are a changin’. The words to Dylan’s famous song ring loud and true 53 years after it was first released. It could just as easily be referring to the present. In other words; are the times really a changin’ ??