Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's that time.....

Our tree..

     For me, we are in the midst of the best part of the year, the holiday season. Don't get me wrong, I love all that the other seasons have to offer, warm weather, the beach, Valentine's Day (hint hint) but those all seem like so much more of a blur than right now. If Halloween kicks off the holidays in the US, it kind of sputters and hints something is to come here in France. I only found pumpkins the day before Halloween and you might find a brown leafy basket decorating a store front window with a ghost in it...cause that makes sense. It is still a very new 'holiday' here in France, however I can tell you it has come a long way since we have been here. Now, we only have 2 or 3 older teenagers showing up in regular clothes at our door asking for 'bon bons', they're getting there. So one can assume that in another 20 years, they will be where we were 10 years ago. That is the difference between the US and France. In the US, we seem to be more about the commercial part of holidays than the sentiments. While we recognize this, it is still tough to change. We may live here, but we are still Americans at heart.  I did find a pumpkin this year and carved it. By the next night it was mush so maybe they knew what they were doing all along.
     Thanksgiving is another stop on the holiday train for us. Every year we do a head count of the americans/semi-americans, and or players that look really really thin on Shaun's team and start planning how many people are going to be eating with us and what day we will do it.  Pretty sure I am not fooling anyone by saying we do the head count and planning but it is our blog so I will carry on. We usually have to postpone it to sunday since the team practices thursdays (you would be amazed at how many people from the US are suprised that they have practice on such an important holiday as Thanksgiving......hmmm). Since the team is a revolving door this year ( read... we have no idea who is actually on the team until practice starts) and no one appeared to be too skinny, it was just 4 of us.  Although there was not a cranberry in sight, it went great.  But, it's not always smooth sailing.  Last year,  I ordered a 10 kilo (22lb) turkey for the 10-11 people we were expecting and when I went to pick it up, I should of known something wasn't right by the signs I was getting. No one would look me in the eye and some even pretended not to understand my french, can you believe that!!??  For those of you who don't already know, the french are masters at not being able to understand you if your accent isn't just perfect. It is not until they repeat the word out loud, often times identical to how you had just said it, do they finally recognize it while making you look like a fool in the process.  Back to the story.  Finally, a brave soul in the back, yelled/mumbled out ,"It wasn't possible, sorry." This was after I confirmed a gazillion times and did many 'drive bys' just to make sure the store was still there. BUT they told me it was going to be alright and not to worry.  They couldn't get me a 9 kilo turkey but they could, wait for it, get me 3 smallers ones. To which I replied, " oh great, and will that be coming with 3 ovens too." You can't win 'em all over here, you got to pick and choose your battles and mine wasn't going to be over 3 small turkeys so we made it work.
Hot chocolate chalet
The chalets
     For Christmas, each city has their own little 'Christmas village' they put up usually in the center of the city. Normally, they consist of little chalets selling all sorts of regional trinkets and food, an ice skating rink, Christmas trees decorated and of course, Santa. While at Chez Feins, we have our tree up and already decorated by Thanksgiving, I swear I am part Griswold, they wait all the way until the beginning of December to put up the villages. The closer it is to Christmas, the more crowded they get so we decided to head over early and check them out. There really is nothing too special about each village. They all sell hot wine, which I buy every year and then feel a bit sick after drinking it, cheese, sausages, roasted chestnuts, hot chocolate, churros, flavored oils and crepes. For the most part, they are all pretty similiar...or so we thought. Our Marche de Noel in Toulon had something I have never seen at any other marche, or anywhere else for that matter. We had a guy dressed up as 'who knows what' with cats on his arms and head. He didn't do anything. He didn't sing. He didn't dance. He barely moved, and the worst part was, he only moved to motion that in order to take pictures of him, you had to give him a coin. We locked eyes and he could tell I wasn't going to pay, so I had to keep it movin' while trying to take the pictures...sorry.

Weird cat man
Our tree
Me with the hot wine..before feeling sick.

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