Monday, December 18, 2006

Please have snow...and mistletoe...

I have always placed considerable importance on traditions around Christmastime. December rolls around, and I instinctively go digging for a recording of the Messiah, stock up on extra butter for cookies every time I go to the store, and get sentimental at the smell of trees wafting over from the parking lot at Cub Foods.

Being overseas has not altered these seasonal compulsions one iota. I realized this suddenly on my way to work one day. Leaving the metro stop, I thought I caught a faint whiff of pine emanating from above. Sure enough, to my surprised delight, there were piles of prickly pleasantness just waiting to be taken home. That is, by anyone willing to drop the necessary euro. Aye, there's the rub!

Given our restrictions of space and budget, we had to content ourselves with something a bit more modest. As I told Karl, this will (Lord willing) be the only year that I will be okay with a tree that he can carry home in one hand. Here you can see him, struggling home with the burdensome mass. Poor guy.

Still, we mounted the final product high and proud on a barstool. Hopefully I didn't give it an inferiority complex with all of my whining. For trimmings, I had some mismatched earrings and postage stamps that seemed to be to scale.

Stop laughing. It's true. Still, it's kinda pretty.

Of course, admiring the tree leads - quite naturally - to eggnog and cookies. Eggnog? In France? Good luck with that one. After wandering the confusing aisles of the supermarket fruitlessly for a spell, we decided to have a go at the old fashioned route and make it ourselves. I can hear a chorus of clucking tongues and disapproving glances from all of the mothers who read this blog regarding the dangers of samonella. Allow me to explain. One of the best things about France is their obsession with the freshness of certain foods. One of these is eggs. Believe it or not, each egg is separately date-stamped. In addition, the fancy, organic type all have the name of the farmer right on the carton. Convenient, if you're dying of the dreaded disease and you want to contact them and let them know how crappy you feel. Unlikely, with the precautions that I've just described. So, the evening of the tree concluded with glasses of frothy wonderfulness and candlelight.

Of course, how can you nosh on goodies like that around the tree and avoid breaking into song? Rather than singing the glories of "O Tannenbaum", however, we joined our voices with those of fellow Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. We've feted His coming together on a number of occasions over the past few weeks. Last weekend, for a change of pace, our church met in the 13th century basement of a former jazz club downtown to sing carols. It was a treat to sing old favorites in French and English, and sometimes German.

Without any further ado, here we came a-caroling. (A few samples that my ingenious husband captured along the way):

Go Tell it on the Mountain

Joy to the World

Finally, we donned every inch of wool, leather, and Gore-tex that we own, and endured a stiff wind outside of the Notre-Dame. (Their Christmas tree was a little but bigger than ours. Really, I'm okay with that. Really...) Our patience "in freezing winter night" was well-rewarded with an exquisite rendition of Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of the Carols and a few other tasty morsels from the Middle Ages. En plus, it didn't cost a mite.

Sing we all Noel!


Mel Arroz said...

A very Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas from Minnesota!
We miss you and we'll be thinking about you tonight. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Mele Kalikimaka!

-Christa and Tim

the poet said...

Thank you for sharing this sweet moment in your lives. The tree doesn't look half bad (really!), and I think it will suffer no long term emotional trama. So rest easy and have a bit more eggnog, and cozy down with friends and each other, and reflect on the magnitude of our Lord's love streaming out to us as a baby in this meager place called earth. Oh, we love you guys and pray the abiding warm of His passion in this holy season. And, jeepers, we like the postings. They make us feel almost like we are there somehow. Bless you both. All my love, Dad.

tri-mama said...

Beautiful post Ab! How sweet that home or abroad, there is the family of Christ to celebrate with. Take care

Anonymous said...

Your tree was better than mine! I had a poinsettia plant - that I overwatered...
Very few eggs actually carry salmonella - if they have it, it rarely penetrates the shell - you are more likely to get it by not washing your hands after you handle the egg - you aren't likely to die from it - but it does make for an uncomfortable means of weight maintenance during the holidays! Homemade eggnog is the best;-) Good for you!! I'm not scared of homemade mayo or cheese either - I could be a good European given the opportunity! Thanks for the egg info - interesting foodie facts;-)

Glad you are enjoying the experiences - love, auntie ruthie