IMG_0209One of the challenges of living in the south of France is that until two days ago, we’ve been in sweater weather, or even in shirt sleeves, and are shocked that it’s December already. We put up our Christmas tree, a mini edition that originally was for our kid’s room, back when that sort of thing was terribly exciting. It doesn’t have room for all the decorations we’ve accumulated. So we stuck to the sentimental ones only.

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I have two sets of crocheted snowflakes–one from each grandmother.

We lit all the candles, and our kid chose a Christmas playlist from Spotify. We were able to sing along to almost every song. I could name the singers of the old ones after just a few notes, whereas our kid knew the more current performers. (I didn’t know Beyoncé did Silent Night! I love it, of course, but Andy Williams is forever the king of Christmas to me.) This process of singing, unwrapping and hanging is one of my favorite moments of the year, more so than Christmas itself. We’re unwrapping dear old decorations, some of them a little worse for the wear, others handmade by loved ones no longer among us. It lacks the excitement of unwrapping a present–we already know what’s in each box, nestled in tissue paper. The friendly ghosts of Christmas past.

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Yes, that’s a Snoopy ornament. Am hoping to get our kid to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special. One is never too old for that!

IMG_0194Are you making Christmas cookies? I am on the fence. It’s a lot of work and a lot of high-fat, high-sugar temptation, but people around here don’t do Christmas cookies and seem genuinely thrilled to get a box of them. Plus it’s another excuse to put on Christmas carols and sing with my kid while we putter away. Cookie baking deserves musical accompaniment.IMG_0198IMG_0207Speaking of high-sugar temptations in pretty boxes, take a look at these Ladurée macarons from a friend. They tasted as sublime as they look. If you can’t get to Ladurée, you can make your own–it isn’t hard.

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Thank you, M.!
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The box itself is almost as pretty as what’s inside.

Meanwhile, Carcassonne’s Christmas market is full of people sharing aperitifs and oysters, or mulled wine and aligot, while energetic youth chase each other around the ice rink. Between high temperatures and rain, it’s hard to keep the ice frozen.

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Poor Neptune–the white statue–is bare-bottomed.

What is your favorite Christmas carol? Mine is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I just found the sheet music, which my mother had bought when the song came out, in 1944. Instead of records, she would buy the sheet music. I’m going to work on playing it.

Are you ready for the holidays? IMG_7584

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28 thoughts on “Holiday Musings

  1. I truly love the Charlie Brown Christmas special, and my adult children sent me the DVD years ago so I could watch it every year, and I do. It is 53 years old – impossible!

    Your photos are lovely. Joyeux noël!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a lovely slice of French life at Christmas! Your posts are like postcards from a friend I’ve never met, and slide open a window on a world I imagine with pleasure. After the attack in Strasbourg, I hope everyone embraces the Christmas markets to show their support. I will continue to look forward to your delightful posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never seen crocheted Christmas ornaments – how lovely to have the ones your grandmothers made! I’m not doing a tree this year as we’re going away for Christmas, so the decorations will just sit in their box until next year, but they are safe and sound! I’ve made a whole batch of gingerbread cookies for a Christmas concert (about 300 pieces) and they went down very well with the mulled wine!! Just the smell of the cookies and mulled wine is enough to get me in the holiday mood!
    Have yourself a merry festive season!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your crocheted snowflakes are quite exquisite! Both my grandmother and my mom loved to crochet, so seeing your pictures triggered lovely memories. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of what Christmas anticipation looks like in your neck of the woods and enjoy spreading the american tradition of baking cookies at holiday time! Wishing you a truly Merry Christmas besides your loved ones!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We, too, have crotchet Christmas snowflakes, ornaments that belonged to family that are no longer with us, and ornaments handmade by friends in Munich. Add to all those are singing carols, Christmas songs as we unwrapped the ornaments and watching Charlie Brown Christmas Special as well as the Grinch are standard around here.
    thanks for a lovely post and a look at Christmas in your part of the world. Hope y’all will have a wonderful Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree, getting out the old ornament is such a pleasure. Some From my parents and some from dear friends long gone. Each one is a memory. The laughter that was shared at the time. I remember the year my younger sister got up in the middle of the night and opened all of the presents…I was so angry that I stayed in bed and cried…my poor mother tried to explain to me that she was just a little girl and it was okay…Christmas was not spoiled.
    I have not thought of that for years and years..
    Enjoy the lead up to the festive season!!
    Ali x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Some lovely memories you have shared here. I must admit I tend rush through the decorating and wrapping without savouring the moment. Am going to try and remedy that this afternoon! My favourite carol — there are so many! — may be Bing singing, ‘I’ll be home for Christmas…” May all the joys of the season be yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Those crocheted Christmas ornaments are lovely! I think the reason we love decorating so much is all the memories it brings back of Christmas past.

    I used to live in Montpellier which I see is where you often go shopping. We visited Carcassonne and I had a poster from there in my room when I lived in France. My husband is from Nice, I met him while living there, oh so very many years ago it almost seems like a dream. {sigh} I do miss it.

    I was over the Christmas music on November second. They start playing it far too early here. Ideally I like Christmas music the day we decorate the house, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day otherwise it loses some of its value for me and just becomes an earworm I can’t remove.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I lived in Castelneau le Lez, just outside of Montpellier.

        We haven’t been back since I left, some 28 years ago now. I lived in Nice for a while with my husband before I had to come back to Canada and he came over afterwards.

        We have been back to France a few times but never Montpellier.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. At 70, I’ve accrued so many ornaments from friends and family, I have to choose a theme to limit them. I text the grandkids to see who’s available to help and a few always show up. They like the challenge of a theme. This year it was red, gold, silver and white.
    I crocheted ornaments for our tree back in our dirt poor days. Seeing your post makes me think I ought to make sure there are enough for all the grandkids. Have to get the hook out.
    Baking had come down to 3 favorites, kipfels, biscotti and shortbread. Now I let my four daughters do their thing and I only make the shortbread which goes perfect with homemade eggnog.
    I want to know more about the ‘aligot’. How is it made and what is it served with? I looked it up on Wikipedia but didn’t recognize any of the cheeses- substitute?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aligot (pronounced alley-go) is just loose mashed potatoes with cheese plus a little sour cream and garlic, to produce a stringy, rich delight. It’s food from the mountains (Savoie), so the cheese also is from there–tome.
      On https://www.aligot.info/aligot-autre-fromage-tome-fraiche.html, they say you can substitute:
      Cantal ou Laguiole,
      Saint-Nectaire,
      Fromage à raclette,
      Appenzeller,
      Tomme de Savoie
      Comté,
      Beaufort,
      Reblochon,
      Emmental,
      Mozzarella.

      Like

  10. I love Christmas! The best part of the holiday is as you say “visiting the ghosts” of Chritmas past as I take out each ornament and reminisce about where is came from or who made it. And of course my other favorite part is baking! I love to make cookies, candies, breads, cakes and more to share with friends and family. I typically only bake for those who don’t bake or live near to me, the ones who never get my treats during the year. Oddly enough I only like the eat one cookie from each batch just after it comes out of the oven, I actually like the raw dough. Strange I know. This year I tried some viennese whirls dipped in dark chocolate and I loved them, I could have eaten the entire batch.

    I hope that you have a very happy Christmas. I would love to hear about the cookies you make.

    Liked by 1 person

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