It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

 ...in the most wonderful place on earth, Gibraltar!

By Stefano Blanca Sciacaluga

Gibraltarians are people of habit and trend, somos los más culo veo culo quiero, y se ve, porque lo quiero y lo veo. Como somos unos cardeosos Christmas cada vez empieza antes: when the summer ends and nights get longer y empezamos a oler los polvorones; our Halloween, which used to be a rather violent, inter-housing estate battle (from what I remember in my youth), has now become a very American dream, relaxed affair; más Thanksgiving (Diet Christmas).

The only thing that hasn’t changed from the old days of wild Halloween is como salen los zombies. Salimos de Halloween y el autopilot ya tira pa’ Christmas. Scud Hill sin frenos. It starts getting colder (still not cold enough for jackets pero las tenemos so sudamos como patos), keen beans start their Christmas shopping super early y empieza el cardeo.

It all starts with Black Friday. We still haven’t gone for Thanksgiving, thankfully, but we’re all about Black Friday, como si nunca hubiéramos visto un special offer (que de special en Gibraltar poco, eh). We’ve all grown up with the footage of Americans sleeping outside Target and storming in, no doubt trampling half a dozen people in the process; grabbing ANYTHING. Aquí no tanto; one shop had a queue this year, the rest had extremely specific offers like “spend over £30 in one kind of product in our shop and get 5% but only on another kind of product”. Caca de la vaca. Pero como somos unos cracks we’ve made another piss up out of the closest Friday to Black Friday. I walked from Sacarello’s coffee shop to the cathedral and bumped into a million people I know, already calentitos at five in the afternoon. Como oscurece antes, nos escondemos mejor.

Once Black Friday is out of the way and we haven’t started our Christmas shopping (even though we hoped to cover it all with Black Friday, engañaos), empezamos a dar la lata en el trabajo, trying to juggle with the remaining three or four weeks of the working year and the three or four days of leave we haven’t yet used up. Here is where antes todo el mundo se metía en un avión y se encajaba en los Londres. Then came Liverpool and Manchester (the Primark version of London), y ahora algún listo discovered you can catch a train from San Roque to Madrid and it’s the new go-to, porque tenemos Revolut. El mismo hotel, los mismos restaurantes, las mismas tiendas. Imagine how strange it must be for the Madrileños to not only meet Gibraltarians, but meet them when they’re there to shop and nothing else. What is sightseeing? Lo mejor de todo? You avoid la murga que te da EasyJet when you turn up at Gatwick for the early morning flight in una vasca de 30 (abuelos, padres, hijos, nietos) with four more suitcases than you booked and angry that they’re not understanding you are from Gibraltar and because you are from Gibraltar and you need to get home they need to let you board with all your suitcases (note: on board, en plan, they’re not going in the hold que el Yankee Candle pa’ tu abuela está en la maleta y en la vida).

So you’re back home y ya you’ve planned all your outfits for the remainder of the year, of course estrenando todo lo nuevo that you’ve bought in Primark (como si no hay un Primark in Algeciras, where you already spend half of your Saturdays). Here we go, ya está todo el mundo en panic mode, three weeks to go to Christmas, you’re spending most of your time at work organising the Christmas eve work lunch and retelling the same story from your office Christmas do - which happened in September so you could make sure you got a table - and getting home a las tantas every day because you’ve been dando vueltas por el pueblo con un cheeky glass of rosé en el cuerpo (cringe). El cardeo is real. De pronto el My Wines empetao every Friday, con coplitas de reggaeton becoming one murmur, as Chatham Counterguard establishments compete for the crowds, and como no, grupitos de mujeres y hombres que han salido sin pareja. Aquí vienen los tíos de 40-50 años mikeando a las niñas de la edad de sus hijas, y las tías dislocadas, pegando chillios and taking a million selfies “con los girlies”. Follón en casa a las cuatro de la mañana guaranteed. And who’s worse off in all of this? Los abuelos, who are already stressing about Christmas dinners, juggling con los nietos for the run up to Christmas escapades of their kids.

Y cuando nos vamos a dar cuenta, la lotería de pascua. People cropping up all over Facebook completely devastated that their fijo was sold by Bautista (but they didn’t go for it until two days before, mind). How could this happen to a Gibraltarian!? The excitement literally lasts a handful of hours before you realise you haven’t won, you still haven’t got paid and realistically you’d rather get paid later in the month because it needs to stretch to the end of January, but really you need to get paid as soon as possible because you are more stiff than the mojama.

Que follón de pascua. You’re already prepping the Gaviscon for the binge, pero como no te pierdes ni una and everybody is enpascuao wild, you (along with everybody else in some weird telepathetic move) decide the Friday before Christmas Day is the perfect excuse for yet another great piss up; whether the weather allows or not. Todo el mundo haciendo el melón hasta las tantas, singing along to Wham and Mariah, way off key and out of tune. Y todavía queda Christmas Eve!

Aquí ya estamos con la crème de la crème. If you didn’t already lose your dignity a couple of times in the lead up to Christmas this is your last chance, y ahí van los llanitos más cringe, sneaking in Baileys in the office at 9:30am and getting to the work lunch hecho una porqueria ya. Los bandazos por la Calle Real y los villancicos que no se los quite nadie. Peak suegra tension esa cena del 24 cuando llegas apestando a laga y lo que no es laga and start to suffer the hangover just after the first round of prawns, mal humor heavy, dandole advice perruno a el hijo de tu primo que acaba de hacer los O Levels y donde quiere estar es en el Christmas party del GSLP en el stadium trajeao, y no aquí con los viejos.

Un follón con el wife, nasty looks and whispers from family members and a nightmare walk home pegando tumbos and you’re just about ready to begin your hibernation until Maundy Thursday and Good Friday porque ya tienes los huevos negros to do anything for New Year’s Eve.

Hasta la próxima, campeón!