Actually there isn't any snow and the ugly Parisian suburbs are barely decorated, but it's kinda starting to feel like the holiday season, and Christmas is just one month away now. I'm trying not to think about it though because this year won't be nearly as Christmasy as the rest. I'm not going home, not taking any time off work (other than Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), and I won't even be spending it with Max (who is the reason I stayed in France this year, before we found out his unfortunate work schedule). But I won't be alone because my wonderful friend Mil has invited me to spend Xmas Eve with her little family (French hubby and beautiful baby girl), plus my old co-worker and her hubby. Mil lives in the North of France and we met a few years ago at work. Even though I moved to Paris, we've kept in touch and I'm so touched she has invited me to stay over at her house Xmas Eve til Xmas Day. I'd love it if Max were able to come too and partake in the holiday cheer, but it's not his fault he has to work. He won't be able to come to the North at all until New Year's Eve, but we are hoping that his friends will organize a soirée so we can all celebrate together because it's been too long since his friends got together.
Growing up, Christmas was always huge in my house. My parents went all out with decorations and food and presents and all the memories I have of the holidays are happy ones filled with fun and family. I love Christmas and not going home to celebrate with my family is so hard, even now that I'm 27 and not a kid. But living so far away makes going home every year a challenge and I'll have to be content with visiting Canada during the holidays every other year.
I've only spent one Christmas in France and it was nice, but lacklustre. Max's family isn't into celebrating the holidays all that much. They do nothing on the 24th and his mom prepares a meal on the 25th for those in the family who want to come. No decorations, no Christmas tree, no turkey. And they have a strange policy on presents. For Max, a Christmas present is the money his mom will transfer into his bank account after he buys himself something in October or November. Such was the case last weekend when he bought new boxing equipment with me on Saturday then called his mom from the car to tell her how much it was and to please put the money into his bank account sometime soon. A far cry from the beautifully wrapped boxes hidden under the Christmas tree of my childhood! And every time the subject of my present comes up, he tells me to just buy something I like and he'll give me the money after. Sorry honey, but I don't work that way. I want him to take the time to think of something I'd like, to go out and buy it, to wrap it and hide it and give it to me on Christmas day. I know this will never happen, but it's a nice thought anyway. For the moment, I haven't even thought about what I want because I don't want to think too much about Christmas. And I suppose that everything I would want can't be bought in a store or online, so what's the point? I do, however, love the Christmas markets in France and I plan on going to the one at La Défense and Les Champs Elysées in the coming weeks to sip vin chaud, eat a warm sugar crepe or roasted chestnuts and marvel at the twinkling lights and handcrafted gifts.
This year, I'll celebrate the people who care about me both in France and in Canada (via phone and internet!) and try not to think about garland and ornaments and reindeer. And that's really not so bad after all.