My parents moved here over a decade ago, so this wasn’t our first Christmas in France. It was, of course, the first Christmas we’ve spent in our own home in France. What a blessing we got to move in before Christmas; even if the move itself was taxing.
The night before Christmas Eve La Belle Fille and I were in the nearby town of Coutances with its imposing cathedral. La Jolie Fille was at home with Le Marie as she’d been poorly with a tummy bug, but we didn’t want to miss the opportunity for my eldest to get out of the house and meet with her relatives who’d come to see my folks.
As we drove into town and saw all the Christmas lights I couldn’t help but be struck by last year’s visit on a similar day. The town’s beauty had impacted upon me then too and I had been filled with excitement at the prospect of finally moving to France this year. Now living here that visit seemed eons ago, and our life in France the norm. It’s funny how quickly I’ve become accustomed to the idea of this being our home.
This, however, was the quiet before the storm. When La Belle and I arrived home the whole family has supper together. I remarked to Le Marie that my stomach had started to feel a bit funny. Then by the early hours of Christmas Eve it was obvious I had come down with the bug too. I had to spend nearly the whole day in bed and drank water all day, opting for a crust of bread in the early evening like a Dickensian period drama extra.
The worst thing was our plans were going to be affected. You see, some weeks earlier I had taken to Le Bon Coin to find a puppy to purchase for the little ones as their main Christmas gift. I had found a Tebetin Spaniel, coincidently the same breed of dog my family had had when we were children. I’d arranged for the owners to keep it until Christmas Eve, when I’d take it to my parents to look after until Christmas morning.I had been due to travel to the vendors home to collect it, but Le Marie had to go in my place.
On Christmas Day the children slept in late, as did I. They were still asleep at 9 when my husband came in, worried they weren’t awake yet. Perhaps we hadn’t made Christmas exciting enough for them? I think you can figure out my response.
Inevitably I didn’t go to mass, which I still feel guilty for, as we did go to my folks. I took tablets to keep the virus at bay, but felt worn out throughout the day. But you can’t exactly cancel Christmas plans with two little ones can you?
We got to my parents with plans of how we were going to introduce the kids to their new puppy. Code words were exchanged between the folks and us about hiding it just prior to our arrival. We got in the house and, as the kids settled in, I snuck off to get it. We presented the puppy and waited for the reaction….. We got, what can only be described as really, a “Meh”.
So Christmas Day was spent with little indulgence in the land of the gourmet, my ignoring the infant Jesus at the mass and a completely luck lustre response to what is meant to be the gold standard Christmas present. Ah well. It just goes to show; you can move country, but your life won’t suddenly be perfect. Your problems come with you. Or, as Ecclesiastes says….
The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
Well, part from the God-child lying in the major of course. You know, the one I’ve ignored. Catholic guilt anyone?