Merry Christmas all (or belated, if any of you are actually here on Christmas - go away! Spend time with your families!)
Christmas here, so far, has been awesome. Amynah cooked up a magnificent roast chicken with all the trimmings last night, then we read for a bit and then watched the 1951 "Scrooge" (the only one worth watching). We started it at about 11:30 PM, and so got to hear the cathedral bells go off at 11, 11:30, 12 and 1 AM for midnight mass, which was delightful (I didn't go, though we could here snatches of choral singing and organ music as we watched the film).
As is the tradition in my family, we slept in, before starting with our stockings, which apparently aren't too common in France. They do sell them, but not in great numbers, and they're very expensive. Amynah and I bought a pair of small ones made from burlap, with little felt Santa's brandishing sticks of indeterminate purpose (ski poles? reindeer crops? cudgels?) Mine held socks, one pair of which were green with black death's heads on them and Toberlone. Amynah's had a half-dozen People magazines and Toberlone. I then made pancakes (from a mix).
Then on to the presents: we had far more than I had expected, thanks to my parents and older sister. My folks, smart-asses that they are, had sent a care package with all sorts of things we had requested from Canada wrapped up in Christmas finery - peanut butter, deoderant, more socks - but they also sent me gloves, chocolate, and slippers for Amynah.
My older sister went nuts, as usual - Tim's coffee for me (woo-hoo!) tons of family photos including a homemade calendar with all the important birthdays and anniversaries and Nova Scotia cookbook and oven mitts. All of which seems calculated to ensure that I spend the next three months bedridden with homesickness, but appreciated nonetheless. I'm looking forward to making Blueberry Grunt for the first time.
However, the tippy-top gift of awesomeness came from Amynah. In addition to a book of travel writing for me (inspiration, that) she also gave me a framed ten sous note from 1792, from the French Revolution. Printed as the Terror was about to take off, it has a note on it that warns people that counterfeiting it is a capital offence, and that those that denounce such criminals will be compensated by the state. Very, very cool.
Amynah seemed fairly pleased with Santa's offerings - she received a pajama pants, a sweater (too big) and a traditional Alsatian pottery tea set (and an alarm clock, but that's no fun). The tea set is beautiful - Santa has good taste.
Tonight we go for a second Christmas meal at the house of a Canadian family we know here (a professor who is on a year's sabbatical from Queen's in Amynah's lab, her husband and their two kids). After that, we plan to create a new Christmas tradition of our own by settling in for the night with a Bollywood movie.
Anyway, sorry to have dwelt on the material things, but they are a lot easier to write about than the happiness I feel for having such a wonderful life, good friends, great family and an amazing wife who, despite it being her first kick at the can, is taking to Christmas like a duck to water (though she still seems to identify with pre-reformed "humbug" Scrooge much more than post-reformed "Merry Christmas" Scrooge).
Merry Christmas to all!