This morning I went to see the annual Christmas pageant at Nico's school. Children danced and sang with rouged cheeks and festive homemade costumes. And then there was my favorite part where a psychotic butcher chops up several innocent young children and turns them into sausages. Luckily they are then brought back to life by the good Sant Nicolau (who at least in this production, was donning a colorful hat, which I would have thought much more appropriate for Carmen Miranda than for a saint charged with the serious mission of resurrecting children from sausages).
You're confused? Bloody aprons and butcher knives did not play any part in the holiday productions of your youth? If you're interested, you can read more about this particularly odd Saint Nick Christmas legend here. As far as I know, this isn't a traditional component of most Catalan school performances but for whatever reason, they do it every year at Nico's school. I have to admit that it does spice things up a bit.
So anyway, the holiday season has officially begun and for those of us with kids, this means it's time to go toy shopping! But where? Personally, I prefer to buy most of my presents locally (despite the fact that the only time I've ever been robbed in Barcelona was at a toy store) since it usually means spending less money. Also, I tend to get a bit overwhelmed and confused when faced with large online shopping sites such as Amazon.com. One reason for my confusion might be that whenever I go to one of those sites, Nico is invariably standing next to me, giving vague instructions such as "Search for 'hole in the ground' okay? I want some sort of something underground where Batman and my soldiers can hide."
Me: Yeah, um, I don't think they sell holes in the ground on Amazon.
Nico: Just see Mommy! You never know!
Me: Okay. Oh look, here's a jigsaw puzzle of a gopher emerging from a hole in the ground.
Nico: But that's not what I want. See if they sell "underground caves covered with leaves", okay?
Where do you plan to do most of your Christmas shopping? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Local Toy Shops
-Paradise for Educators. This relatively new shop has tons of fun and educational English books and games.
-El Rey de la Magia. Founded in 1881, this is one of the oldest magic shops in the world!
-Abacus: A great fair-trade collective that has terrific toys as well as tons of fun craft supplies.
-Barruguet: A bit pricier than some others but can be worth it due to the originality of the toys.
-I Love Kutchi: This unique little shop is full of cute toys, dolls, pillows and clothing made from graphic and colorfully printed fabric. Great stocking stuffers!
-Bateau Lune: Of course we all said (before we actually had children) that our children would only play with tasteful toys made with wood and yarn. For the majority of us, this conviction quickly fell by the wayside as soon as the first garish plastic toy came along and bought us 10 minutes of peace. However, if you'd like to revisit those days of naive idealism, check out this Gràcia shop which is is chockful of beautiful and educations toys.
-Ivo & Co.: Seriously adorable handcrafted and retro-style toys in the heart of the Born.
-Diagonal Mar Shopping Centre: If you're up for one-stop shopping, this is the place you should head. Here you will find Imaginarium, Toys R Us, Al Campo and Interkits (among others). Beware! This is where my wallet was stolen last year!