Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from Paris

Despite my absolute obsession with Christmas, being merry this time of year has been a challenge. So many things conspired against my joy and good cheer during the holidays. Being far from loved ones has put a big fat wet towel over my desire to wear a ridiculous reindeer-antler headband. Clearly, it was serious.

That's not all I didn't do. This year I didn't write cards. I didn't make cookies with my best friend and sing songs with family. I didn't make a giant dinner with them, eat too much, and watch "White Christmas" while everyone chatted over coffee. I didn't stare at my cousins, and note how their faces have changed/grown. I didn't go to the mountains and stare out at the white peaks, hot chocolate in-hand. These are just a few of my traditions that define the holidays. Love. Friends. Family. Memories.

But I'm not sad today, despite all I'm missing out on. Of course, I ache to see the people I usually spend this time with. I want to pull out my ridiculous "ugly" sweaters and be the one who makes all the inappropriate jokes.

I know they're four thousand miles away, thinking the same thing I am, wishing we were all together. But it comes down to one thing: I knew what I signed up for.

Life as an expat is a ying/yang experience. You wear berets. Ying. You eat crème brûlée. Ying. You walk past the Eiffel Tower and watch it sparkle. Ying, ying, ying. You miss your family like crazy. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang.

It's a fast-moving roller-coaster of highs and lows that leaves me wishing that I could just pick up my family, plop them down here and say "OK, now you all GO BE HAPPY, and I'll see you for dinner." It's so simple in my mind.

I'm making a tart au citron out of all these effing lemons. I sucked in the city streets and went for holiday drinks with expat friends here. I skyped with my family, it was the next best thing to being there! I made cookies here with my French fam, and we had our own inside jokes around the fire. Our glasses were filled to the brim with Champagne and wine to die for. We ate Fois Gras, Chapon with roasted vegetables and Chestnut purée, stinky cheeses, and of course... my chocolate chip cookies! We even had snow, by god, SNOW in PARIS! It's been pretty magical.

Let's not forget the other benefit of having family far away at Christmas... PACKAGES!!!! I love getting my favorite goodies in the mail. Thanks everyone for being so thoughtful and meticulous in sending me my favorite gum, oatmeal, brands of relish and loads of other precious goods that are so hard to locate here.

New traditions are creeping in to my "perfect Christmas" picture. I feel so blessed to have two families that are so wonderful when some people don't even have one. I have to say, the hubs & the hugs really got me through the yang of this year's lack-of-family.

Whatever you're doing, wherever you are... don't forget, it's Christmas, and no matter how many things are plotting against your happiness, there are a thousand little things that are in your corner. Add them up. Make an army out of them.

And have a very, Merry Christmas!!

ps - a little something to brighten your day...


  1. :D One of the funniest SNL skits ever you have linked in there! Thanks for that...

    I love the "ying, ying, ying, yaaaaaaaaaang" parts of this blog. This is my 43rd Christmas, 41 of which I really do pretty much remember, for the most part, although some of them blur together. The thing is, this one I have had this year is *never* going to blur because it was so full of ying and yang that I will never be able to forget it. And I know, after 43 of them, that those are the ones that are most important -- the ones you really remember.

    As for me, I got to sit around in my pajamas ALL day, and watch whatever I wanted on TV and eat whatever I wanted when I wanted to (well, food intolerances notwithstanding, but there was lots of flexibility, let's say). I could get on the computer if the mood struck me. I had the best conversation in a long while with my oldest son who was hanging out back in Colorado. Imagine: a 14-year-old boy who talked to me for an *hour* about his life, the universe, and everything.

    I had some lemons this one, too. But I think I managed to make the tart au citron, also. Thank you for the fantastic metaphors, thank you for the pep talk (although I was clipping along pretty damn good on my own anyway. It's nice to feel affirmed though, and your words did just that!!).

    Merry Christmas, Kid. ;-)

  2. I agree, it's been one of those years for me too. Lots of ups & downs, but on the whole I'm going to look back & grin I think. Tart. Make tart. That's great about your son, I too called my parents & chatted for quite a while, but I'm past 14 now so not sure it counts for as much lol.

    Have a wonderful xmas fellow colorado-lover, looking forward to seeing you at the tweet up!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo ps- xo

  3. "I'm past 14 now so not sure it counts for as much lol"

    And you're not a teen boy -- they have this tendency to just grunt when spoken to, lol!

    Yeah, I am never on the Cool Kids list for tweetup-related things, so I was unaware that there was one. (I think I am too old, lol, one of the grandmas when it comes to average age of bloggers. ;-)) I guess if I find out the secret code for getting in, then I may see you there, else I will hang here and watch more "Northern Exposure," heh! :D My best friend is up from Antibes, though, and I highly doubt she'll want to go to anything like that if it is while she's here! Not her thing.

  4. Merry Christmas, Shannon! It was an atypical holiday for me as well - first time in eons that I wasn't home. But I did get some family love in London, which was nice, so I can't complain. For you, just imagine how you'll feel looking back on this holiday next year, when you are surrounded by your beloved, happy family faces. And even years from now. This season will have the bittersweet tang of having been a brave young soul in the most beautiful city in the world and having made tart au citron in the face of life's lemons. You rock. It sounds like you're definitely making the most of the season and that is something to really celebrate and carry with you into 2011! xo, Amy

  5. It is such a bummer to be away from the fam during the holidays!!! I also love the PACKAGES!! I went to my parents for the holidays but packages will be awaiting my arrival from the in-laws when I get home! Christmas is still goin on!!! Thanks also for the ARMY reminder. We all need that type of reminder every so often.

    Best SNL skit EVER!!!

  6. @Karin - Thanks for noticing I'm not a 14yo boy, made my day!!! ;) Bring your friend with, it's fun! It's Jan 23rd, fyi, I'm soooo not one of the cool kids, I just see them on twitter once in a while. You can check the website too :)

  7. @Sweetfreak Awe thanks for the sweet words!! They rang true, le sigh. Trying to make the most of it anyway & thinking about my next trip over to see the nephew! Glad you had a good holiday :)

  8. @Golf Yeah, that skit really lifted my spirits lol, can always use a good "dick in a box" moment when I'm down at xmas! Packages are THE BEST! Love them!! Happy Holidays :)

  9. Shan -- thanks for the heads up about the Tweetup! And you're welcome on noticing you are not a 14-y.o. boy. :D Ahhhh, Jan 23. She's leaving in the morn, on New Year's Day, so it's moot as far as she goes. I'll see if I can drag Paris Paul to the thing. We'll all be so uncool we'll be cool, lol. ;-)

    BTW I have read all of your terrific subsequent posts, and have just not had time to comment. The Beth Arnold interview is terrific, and oh you poor puke magnet!! That sux! But you made me laugh with your retelling. :D

    Happy New Year, my dear. :)


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