vendredi 24 décembre 2010

C is for Christmas

C is for Christmas

Si le temps le permet — weather permitting

Health and what? It’s difficult to imagine this happening in the UK. A few days ago, we helped out with the town’s annual candle lighting ceremony. This involved placing 2,000 tea lights in individual glass holders, lighting them, then distributing them around the old streets of St Antonin. There they remained, unsupervised, for several hours. After that, they were collected and stored away ready for next year.

After the ceremony, a ladder was brought to the local estate agent’s shop. Father Christmas then clambered out of an upstairs window, onto the ladder and wobbled down, clutching a sack of gifts for the children. Makes a change from Lapland.

It all finished with everyone singing carols — in English.

There’s not as much of a build up to Christmas here as there is in the UK — at least the French are spared the interminable DFS adverts and Jamie Oliver. Some Christmas lights have appeared in the streets. Lamp-posts, shop fronts and the bridge over the Aveyron have been adorned with prettily-wrapped parcels and ribbons. They will remain there — unvandalised — until the New Year. A few inflatable Santa Clauses have been attached to the chimneys of some houses where they will probably stay until about March. It’s pretty difficult to buy a proper Christmas card here; you generally have to make do with ‘Bonnes Fetes’ (happy holidays) — or order your cards from Amazon.

A stall selling oysters set up shop in the car park. The local supermarket has a couple of punnets of Brussels sprouts for sale each day that are fought over by traditionally-minded Brits. We missed out, but our friend Di knew of a secret source and kindly even battled through the snow to get them to us. We asked for the head and feet to be taken off our turkey, to the amusement of the French customers standing nearby.

British friends with the slightest baking skill enthusiastically start making mince pies, the mincemeat having been bought on trips to the UK. One friend swapped a plate of hers for a brandy in the local café. Our French neighbour popped round with a plate of treats — dates, nuts, dried apricots stuffed with marzipan and other goodies. She seemed enchanted with the Amazon-bought Christmas card of two dancing snowmen that we sent them.

Gavin’s choir has given two concerts. One, a short distance away, was in the coldest church I have ever been in. The fact that it was -6˚C outside didn’t help — it had been 14˚C earlier in the day! His second concert unfortunately coincided with the great candle-lighting ceremony, so was somewhat sparsely attended.

Of course, despite Gavin giving it its usual Christmas card, the boiler stopped working the day a group of friends were due to come round to sing Christmas carols around the piano. Our friendly boiler repairman was somewhat bemused by this spectacle, but completed the repair successfully.

And now it's snowing… H

appy Christmas and New Year to everyone. (And thanks to Glynis for the photo.)

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