Friday, December 09, 2005

Christmas a la Francais

I'm not sure that title actually means anything but I wanted to muse a little bit about Christmas in France. I was reading on another blog I visit about Christmas Traditions and it got me thinking about the things I love about Christmas in the West Indies. And I realised yet again that it is so different here.

Back home it's more than a day, it's a season, you can feel it in the air. Everyone is talking about it for starters, and holiday music is playing on the radio and in the stores. Everyone is busy cleaning and fixing their homes up. New curtains, new furniture, even new appliances! We're mincing and soaking our fruit in wine, we're making sorrel, punch-a-creme and ginger beer; we're buying cases of soft drinks and beer; we're making sure we have wine, sherry and Bailey's Irish Cream. One day you get home and the whole house smells of baked ham with cloves, and you check the fridge to make sure you have Picallily. There's always some kind of party, you have your office party, your friend's office party, all kinds of activities to go to. Parang music!!! Not to mention Sparrow's version of "There's no place like home for the holidays", Red Plastic Bag's "Maisie" and The Merrymen's "Santa Got a Sunburn". Friends you haven't seen in ages drop by the house saying "Compliments of the Season!" because they have to taste your ham and cake. Finally you get your tree and set it up, close to the window of course so everyone can see it as they pass by. And one tradtition particular to our house: Mummy coming home on the last day of school with gifts from all her students and us trying to convince her she can't open them till Christmas Day. It never worked of course!

Man, I miss all that!!! That's why I'm so glad that we are going to be home for the holidays. Ideally we would be heading there now to really get in that last week or so before the big day but it's all good, we'll be at my aunt's house on December 23rd and I can't complain. I just hope that it's all I remember and I'm not disappointed. :)

It just isn't the same here. There's no holiday music on the radio that I can hear, no one really decorates their house with lights, and pretty much everything happens on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day itself. Another big difference, here the big meal is on Christmas Eve at night, and the gifts are opened at midnight. Kinda defeats the purpose of Santa doesn't it? Don't get me wrong, I quite enjoyed the holiday with my in-laws last year, it was a lovely 2 days we spent in a gite (a self-catering guest house) in the mountains. It just didn't really feel like Christmas. I guess I will have to start new traditions. I do make black cake, sorrel and punch-a-creme, it's not possible for me not to have those!

Of course it could partly be because I am not that integrated into life here yet. Maybe all that excitement does exist but I'm just not part of it? Only time will tell. But for now, I'm gonna put on some parang and dance around the apartment!

1 comment:

Lu said...

i love reading about other traditions.