Friday, December 31, 2010

Holiday Reflections

It felt strange coming to the end of the year under blue skies and warm weather, and without the frenzy that characterizes the weeks before a Canadian Christmas. The holiday season is definitely much more subdued here in France than back home.
Apart from that and the few Christmas cards we recieved from family, Christmas could have been months away. There were no carol singers, no office parties, no lights on houses, no Christmas music, no snowmen, no holiday wreaths on doors, no strident countdowns of the remaining shopping days. I suppose some would love this, but Dennis and I were not so sure. Where was our Christmas spirit? Where was the Christmas tree? Where was the eggnogg and the mistletoe?

Judging by the window displays, grocery stores and their lineups there was no doubt that food was the main event in a French Christmas. Toys, tvs, stereo systems, clothes and jewlery were all of incedental importance. Oysters and shellfish, pheasant and hare, pates and cheeses, hams and capons, gateaux and champagne. At times I found myself suffering of visual indigestion there was so much. I even found myself having to look away from the many meat displays as there would usually be a skinned carcass or two starring blindly up at you from under the glass. Not to mention the rows of nude birds with their heads still attached, neatly arranged of course. I would shudder and move on.

Christmas day was a quiet one, just Dennis, myself and Rypien. We all woke up to sunshine and quiet empty streets, which was shortly followed by dog puke and an apartment with no electricity. The turkey was stuffed and ready for the oven when the power for our entire apartment went out. We couldn't believe it! Thankfully it was only a temporary lapse and we were back to full power. Could you even imagine a Christmas without turkey?

Luckily our Christmas dinner turned out wonderfully – turkey, stuffing and all the fixings - we ate long and drank well and talked about the months that had gone as quickly as weeks. There was so much we hadn't seen and done. It has been a fabulous year, spent mostly in France and the corner of the country in which we live, fascinating to us in its tiny details and daily rituals, sometimes uncomfortable, often frusterating, but never dull or disappointing and always exciting. It's been quite the adventure!