I actually love Christmas and have been thrilled this year to be in Lisbon for the season. The lights and decorations are absolutely stunning and there is a real sense of festivity in the air without it being overly-commercialised. It is still two weeks away, but I have already had fun buying handmade presents in the market and attending very jolly lunchtime celebrations.
One thing I hadn't bargained on was the ability to literally rock around the clock without even leaving our apartment. We have a group of little, local shops that surround our apartment, who get together every year and play non-stop Christmas songs right outside our window. Although it is lovely to listen to the first six times, by the twelfth day it is starting to wear a bit thin. I think I have heard 'All I Want For Christmas' about 24 times. They probably didn't mean it to have this affect, but it certainly encourages me to leave the apartment on a fairly regular basis and take to the streets, where I am more likely to engage in shopping activities!
Earlier this week, I had a wonderful Christmas experience on the bus. I was sitting with three elderly women in a group of four seats facing each other. Even though the women didn't know each other, they started up a conversation, which I found it difficult to contribute to due to my somewhat limited Portuguese. However, after about ten minutes, the woman next to me, turned and asked me in Portuguese when the Cais do Sodre stop was coming up. I think that she knew, but she wanted to invite me to join in the conversation. Being able to tell her gave me a warm glow, and when she got off the bus she said two words to me - "Good Christmas". I loved that even though she didn't really speak English, she was using the few words that she did know to share the season with me. I've been feeling warm and in the spirit ever since.