Chloe was glad to be home for Christmas and we were glad to have her here. I read various ex-pat blogs and it sounds like Spain is not the only country that doesn't make a big deal about Christmas, and by that I mean mostly a big commercial deal. I think Chloe's decided she likes the commercial part of Christmas as well as the family part. Sure, seeing friends and family and celebrating the holiday season with them is wonderful, and the warm feeling we get from maintaining traditions just makes us feel good. But presents - receiving and giving - are a part of those traditions. It's more than getting stuff, it's thinking about what would be just the right gift ("right" doesn't necessarily mean expensive) and anticipating how the receiver will react. It's getting the perfect gift, which demonstrates that the giver thinks enough of you to put so much effort into making you happy. Without gift giving, an important component (one of them) of the season is missing.
Chloe had to make the most of Christmas because the rest of her Christmas break is going to be not so pleasant. Today at noon she is going to have some rib cartilage re-sectioned. She's had a bump that sticks out from one of her bottom ribs for about two years now and we finally got someone to say that, although there is nothing there that shouldn't be there, the cartilage is definitely the wrong shape. The surgeon said it probably broke after her trip to the gym and work on the ab machines with her aunt months before she left for Pamplona. The odd thing is that it never really hurt, although she said it often feels like something inside is getting caught on it. It healed at an odd angle so he'll cut it up and connect it the way it should be. It will never be perfect, but if it's not sticking out it won't be a constant source of irritation. Although the doctor has never seen this particular kind of case (he's a thoracic surgeon so has worked on lots of rib cages), it will be a simple procedure and should take only about half an hour. Now she won't teeter when she lies on her stomach.
Then, on Friday, she gets all four wisdom teeth taken out. I'm not a fan of removal of wisdom teeth simply because they exist (and neither is the dentist, who has referred her to an oral surgeon), but she does need them to be gone because there is no room for them. Chloe has no friends who have had rib cartilage re-sectioned and so has no frame of reference for how the recovery from that will be. She does, however, have lots of friends who have recently had their wisdom teeth pulled and is not looking forward to that recovery one bit. It's a bit like when a woman is pregnant: Suddenly everyone she meets is compelled to recount in gory detail the dozens of hours they or someone they know spent in agonizing labor. Now she knows all about bloody gauze, irrigating the wounds, and a swollen face.
When Chloe had been in Spain for about a month she had a tooth that hurt quite a lot so she went to a dentist in Pamplona. She said it was in an apartment and the whole experience reminded her of the scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise gets new eyeballs from the same guy who dispatched Steve Buscemi through a wood chipper in Fargo. The assessment was that Chloe had "perfect teeth." Wrong: she has at least four cavities that the Spanish dentist missed. It's worth mentioning that Chloe rarely saw anyone during her exchange year brush their teeth. Another cultural difference, one that we won't be embracing.