Bah Humbug


I just can’t get into Christmas anymore. I have no Christmas spirit and, to top it all, I don’t have that gene needed for arts and crafts and decorating. Last year I put out some candles and I bought a poinsettia and that was it. I stopped decorating for Christmas when I got divorced from my first husband years ago. It broke my heart to decorate a tree and I think all of the decorations were left with him to boot. Just hearing a Christmas carol sent me into depression so I decided to not do anything. My daughter still lived at home the first year and finally I decided I had to do something for her and put up a half hearted tree for her. I even went to Las Vegas one Christmas -surely the least Christmasy place one can visit, at least in my mind.
Of course, time passes, hearts heal, spirits lighten and, to my surprise, I found Maurice. This year Maurice wanted a Christmas tree, a real one, so I decided I should shelve my inner Scrooge for him. They cost alot here in Paris but we managed to find a nice one at a food market for only 15 Euros. I bought inexpensive decorations at Monoprix and put them on the tree and, voila, Christmas.
Then I looked out my bedroom window and there across the street is someone, not even an American, who really got into the Christmas spirit. She decorated the outside of her windows that she can’t even see from the inside, except from the back and I imagine that few people can even see them from below. I’m impressed.


13 thoughts to “Bah Humbug”

  1. I have a case of beautiful ornaments that have now been in storage for four Christmases because I’ve spent the past four years spending Christmas at my mother’s place. I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to ship them to Paris for NEXT Christmas, and bringing my own tradition to my new French family.

  2. This is the first Christmas since moving to Europe a number of years ago that we have all the ingredients for traditional decorating. We’ve had some fun here and there in several different countries, covering the rented bannister, mantlepiece, or vestibule in lights and pine fronds. A tiny lit tree on the coffee table from the local florists’ on a few occasions. And poinsettias to fill in all the bare spots. Not much else possible bumping around from culture to culture, nothing feeling like “ours” as one year turns into the next. The children have been understanding, enjoyed the newness of it, taken things in stride. But we’ve all missed the traditions too.

    Most recently, for three Winters in a row we wandered the stalls of the Edinburgh Christmas fair, all imported from Bavaria. Wooden decorations and toys, hot pretzels and barbecued sandwiches, a massive illuminated ferris wheel overshadowing even the immense Walter Scott monument. Carolers and outdoor ice skating at the foot of the Scottish Art Gallery’s imposing staircase, the perfect scene in many ways and a tourist’s dream. But at the holiday season, knowing we were far from any roots or relatives, in many ways it only served to make me homesick for Pennsylvania and Christmas’s past the Pennsylvania German community where I was raised.

    The holidays there began with the Macy’s Day Parade in New York and the arrival of Santa. The remarkable Bethlehem Choir on television, Mary and Joseph and the Babe in the Manager broadcast to our livingroom from Head House Square in Philadelphia. And always the beautiful and sacred music. There was mulled wine and hot punch served to customers and everyone ending even the casual shopping transaction with “Have a very Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Holiday,” — which I never hear anywhere else these days.

    Since coming to Europe, we bought a lovely place overlooking the Mediterranean in Spain, where we lived for a year; but even there Christmas was a different celebration with children caroling for coins on Christmas Eve and then nothing much happening until “Three Kings” on January 6th. The prevalent palm tree and “THWACK” of golf balls outside the door didn’t help me feel much better about Sleigh Bells Ring!, Are You Listening?” either.

    BUT this year there are four huge crates of our Christmas “stuff” waiting in the attic of our own bonafide house in the French country, a graceful oak tree begging to be illuminated with twinking lights. A conservatory with the perfect spot for the tree. We made a special trip into town yesterday to buy the tree, a gorgeous live Normany pine, to plant in the garden after the celebration and enjoy indefinitely. And as we were thanking the storekeeper and turning to leave he called out “Bonne Noel.” Yes, that is the point. Home at last.

    We’ll have four generations represented around the Christmas table. I’ve ordered an eighteen pound turkey from the nearby organic farm and it will be delivered on the 23rd, accompanied by a huge pork pie especially for my English husband, haw and sloe jelly, homemade Italian garlic sausage for Christmas breakfast [our son’s favorite], and a handmade holly wreath for the kitchen door. This year we’re FINALLY doing it right!

    There is the promise of snow in the air. For the first time in a while we’ll be enjoying a Christmas tree, dinner with all the trimmings, and especially our family. Silent Night.

  3. Bravo! Linda. I’m so glad you got the tree for Maurice…where did you put it? I can’t seem to get into the spirit either this year, and although the 8 foot tree stands majestically decorated, nothing much else has been done. The kids arrive in a week and I’ve yet to decorate the rest of the house, to shop, bake or even get cards out. I don’t know what’s wrong with me this year…although I am enjoying attending Christmas parties hosted by those who do have the spirit. 🙂 I’m hoping that in a couple of days either the spirit will arrive or that I’ll go into complete panic mode and become the whirling dervish of Christmas-present, accomplishing everything with Martha Stewart-esque perfection. (maybe you will too) Well, one can hope! And your decorating neighbor must be the one who had the great decor on her window during the Rugby tournament in the fall.

  4. Linda, I’m glad you’re getting into it a little (even if only for your husband’s sake) and your neighbor’s decoration is really cute. What a fun thing to see out of your window!
    Tell Nancy I will send her snow if she needs any — got PLENTY to spare. :-/

  5. Linda:

    Goodness, I’ve been having Christmas angst for quite some time. When I was younger, I looked forward to all of it: wrapping, decorating, parties. Now, not so much. But I still have to keep up appearances.

  6. You may have gotten the tree for your Dear One, but isn’t the smell wonderful? I love the smell of the pine tree in the house — it makes Christmas for me. This is the last year that my youngest lives at home. Next year she’ll be in college, and while I’m sure she’ll be home for Christmas, things will not be the same. I was feeling zero holiday cheer when this thought came to me. So out came the accursed fake tree and up went our ornaments. I am so glad now. I am sure that are many Christmases in my future that will not be filled with the love of family (in person) so I am taking advantage of this one. Good for you for saying yes to the tree – and enjoying your neighbour’s decorations!

  7. Dear Fleur,
    We’ve been so many years peeking in the windows of other people’s “REAL” Christmas I want the whole thing this year for a change. Even the snow drifts, wet mittens, sleds and shovels. Our own Snowman! Send them on over here!

  8. 3 kings here not fc – nonetheless those climbing father c’s were everywhere two years ago. We use an agave – a tall dried cactus flowers here – no trees. It sits in the sitting room all year and gets decorated at Christmas – also wish I could forget the whole thing, but with families coming…

  9. Oh my goodness, I think Christmas this year will pass me by as I’m still wrapping presents which should have been posted around the world AGES ago… Here’s to Christmas 2008, at least I’ll have 12 months notice (and it’s not like it’s a surprise – decorations have been up in the shops for months! Why can’t I manage to get organised!?!)
    Hehe thanks for commenting on my Brad and Angelina tirade… I think it was actually Provence too… but everyone in Angoulême certainly shelved their disinterest to claim a little piece of Brad and Angelina’s holiday as their own!
    The only brush with fame that we’ve had has been in Paris though – Isabelle Nanty (the comedian from Amelie and Asterix & Obelix) having coffee at a table near ours… small consolation 😉

  10. I’m sure your tree is beautiful. I’m pretty impressed with people that decorate the outside of, well, anything. If I cant see it, I’m not putting out the effort. Maybe I’m a little Scrooge-like myself. 🙂

  11. Your tree looks lovely, and I like those ornaments. Isn’t the scent of the tree so Christmasy? That’s my favorite thing about a Christmas tree. This year my DH and I decided to put up a tree – it has been at least 10 years since we had one–I ran out of Christmas spirit for a few years too.

    Your neighbor’s window decorations are very whimsical – loved the little Santa on the ladder.

    I love Nancy’s plans for Christmas! They sound dreamy, not to mention delicious.

  12. For the first time ever … I still do not have a Christmas tree up and hope so much that the children returning next weekend do not insist on a huge one … all those lights, and I know who decorates and takes it down! But I do love it once it is up and the pine scent is hard to beat! So … good for you …

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