Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Longish post folks – though I beg you to click the links, not because the photographs are so great, but because they are a huge pain in the butt to put up. I'd hate to think I was doing all that cutting and pasting for nothing.

This year marks the first time Amynah and I have spent Christmas together as a couple without our families around. That’s not counting last year’s trip to Costa Rica – Christmas simply does not count if you live in a country where you do not at least have the option of cutting down your own conifer (those with sensitive eyes might want to put on some shades before clicking that- tropical sun and my pasty flesh combine to create quite a glare).

It’s been interesting, so far. By visiting England, we managed to cram in a few of the Christmas traditions that I had become accustomed to in Canada: malls, visiting family and friends, shopping for pirated Bollywood movies in the South Asian neighbourhood of South Hall, sipping a spiced chai while watching a parade of tabla-beating revelers sing “O Holy Night” in Hindi… you know, all that Norman Rockwell-esque type stuff.

Back in France, Christmas is a big deal. Strasbourg is currently Europe’s most illuminated city – each street has its own lighting theme. There is a tree, pictured above, that must be 100 feet tall in Place Kleber. And of course, the largest/oldest Christmas Market has completely taken over the city.

The market consists of three hundred shacks grouped in locations around the city that sell all sorts of things – spiced wine, crepes made while you wait and enough ornaments to encase the forests Northern Canada in an impenetrable shiny shield of tinsel and plastic.

There's more, but I can't tell you what, largely because I cannot actually visit the Christmas market myself, despite the fact that two of the squares are within one minute of my front door. Sadly, entry points to its wonders are clogged with gape-mouthed tourists who flock from town to town in their busloads to see the marvels of… a bunch of huts full of destined-for-the-flea-market dustcatchers.

Not that there isn’t some gold amongst the mountains of scented-candle-etched-glass-healing-crystal-Dungeons-and-Dragons-chess-set dross. Nor do I mind scented candles, etched glass or themed chess sets when they are not ensnaring swarms of slow moving Germans with their irresistible hypnotic power. I just wish they were all in a section by themselves, so I could more easily locate the good stuff, especially as I have not yet found a present for Amynah, while I know she’s bought me something absolutely amazing. Probably a couple of amazing somethings.

We have located a tannenbaum to call our own, which if you click the link, you will see we have overcome our lack of a stand by employong the string we use to truss our chickens for the rotisserie, tying the tree to the oh-so-quaint exposed beams in our ceiling. And yes, it is sitting in a soup bowl. It has been topped by what we have dubbed “The Ayatollah Claus.” It’s an ornament that my friend Jon made for Amynah eight(!) years ago, inspired by Amynah's childhood confusion between Kringle and Khomeini (they both had beards, dressed in robes, ruled over distant, desolate realms and seemed to inspire hysterical paroxysms of joy in their populace wherever they went - understandable, really). I shudder to think what the consequences of being an Unbeliever in that Santa would be - a bit more traumatic than a lump of coal, I'd imagine.

Merry (early) Christmas Everyone!


Anonymous said...

I'm onTravis' computer again, so I will post anonymously. Your tree, while lovely, is not gaudy enough. You obviously require much tinsel so that you can experience the traditional Christmas argument about tinsel application - to clump, to place strand by strand, or to drape, allowing fate to decide which strand will remain where.

Merry Christmas.



Mark Reynolds said...

I'm a big one for placing artfully - I'm not as good at it as the various women in my family. They usually assigned me the rearmost quarter of the tree when we would decorate the family tree. Despite my status as celebrator-in-chief of the household, Amynah did most of the decorating on this one, operating on the principal of maximum coverage which, as you can see, didn't get us very far. We're still building our ornament collection, cut us some slack!

julie said...

Mark, I hope you and Amynah have a very Merry Christmas together. Your pics are lovely! I followed all the links through. We're having a Christmas more akin to your Costa Rican adventure - we're in Bali!!! It's beautiful, and hot, and just a touch rainy (in that nice, tropical way), and I'm lovin' it...