Christmas tree-shaped meringue… that’s what’s in my hand in today’s feature pic. When you have a local baker (president of the regional bakers’ association) who always comes up with original ideas to add to an occasion, you like to support them… (and treat yourself in the process).
Merry Christmas friend!
Last weekend we were in the thick of getting ready for Christmas at church so I didn’t really offer up a normal post. In larger church settings, there are lots of hands to lighten the load. Our situation here is a bit different and given the makeup of the congregation and where many of them live… most things fall to us, making weekends like last weekend a little extra busy.
That being said… let me really quickly go back two weeks, before telling you about the past week…
Bible School Weekend
I was up to Melun to teach at the last Bible School session of 2019. We finished off 1 & 2 Timothy and did an overview of Titus while Dominic spent time with the National Bible quizzing coach.
On our way back home, Saturday afternoon, we stopped in to see the Christmas decorations at Chambord castle. I’d heard it was lovely and had been wanting to see it for several years, but this was the first time that happened to be passing by at “just the right time”.
It was a quick visit – we only had about an hour before closing – but the inside of the castle didn’t disappoint and we grabbed a hot chocolate while waiting for nightfall and the outdoor lights to really shine.
Christmas at Church
One week later (last weekend – as I mentioned earlier), we were getting ready for our Christmas service.
We mixed things up a little by having service at 2:00pm as opposed to our regular 10:30am start time.
The songs and the message reinforced the notion of “Emmanuel – God with us”. In a world where, despite greater than ever connectivity, there exists an equally great level of loneliness – for which Emmanuel is the greatest answer.
A sense of loneliness can be the result of someone betraying us, the death of someone close or a perceived threat. It can be the result of disappointment or prolonged doubt.
Emmanuel (God with us) is the answer.
There were a number of people who were there for the first time. Pray that that seed of God’s word would embed itself deeply in their hearts and would be something they come back to the next time loneliness comes calling.
We followed service with a time of treats and conversation. It was so nice that so many were in no rush to leave and were content to hang out in the house of God. Sophie had a number of friends present and they all came back to the house for supper and some games along with Dominic & Timo.
I can’t tell you how nice it was to see a group of youth belly-laughing around the table. “Lord, birth a youth group here!”
Something kind of cool happened just before Christmas… I was unexpectedly able to harvest about 10kg (22lbs) of honey from my hive.
To some degree, I beekeep in an old-fashioned manner – in Warré hives which use only natural comb – no foundation. I say “old fashioned” … but a big part of choosing this hive was the overall reduced cost associated with this type of beekeeping. There is much less expensive equipment required and, to some degree, less work.
In keeping with that, when it comes time to harvest the honey, it gets extracted, not with an centrifugal (spinner) extractor, but by pressing. I was able to find a small press on France’s version of Craigslist / Kijiji. It’s the same kind of press you’d use to extract juice from apples, grapes, etc.
Extracted in this manner, the honey is referred to as raw or unpasturized and although it gets filtered, rather than being clear, it’s also somewhat cloudy as there are micro-bits of pollen and propolis in it as well.
That was another Christmas treat!
A Long-Family Christmas
Aside from church, this Christmas has been pretty quiet and private.
The kids each opened a gift on Christmas eve and Liz unwrapped a gift from a friend at home. Thanks Wanda McAllister for a truly lovely gift… a hand-woven tea towel.
We opened gifts mid-morning and had dinner later that afternoon. Though we still had turkey, we departed from tradition a bit and had roasted potatoes & veggies as opposed to the traditional mashed potatoes, peas & carrots. No change to the cucumber salad though…. it was present.
Liz had made some gingerbread cookies from a lovely old, tin cookie cutter that I’d gotten years ago at an antique shop in Saint John. I think we brought it back in 2018, but this was the first time we’d used it. It made for some kitchen fun!
Turkey or Tongue?
You’ve heard me mention before that we have a hard time finding whole turkeys through the year. While you can find them at Christmas, they’re not big. We lucked out this year and found a “big” one… 3.9kg (8.5lbs).
*cue the absurd eyeroll emoji*
It’s hard to get 2 days of leftovers from an 8.5 lb bird.
Now… if we were of the beef-tongue-eating persuasion… those are readily available.
Would you look at that monster!? That’s insane. I’ve eaten it once in my life… the flavour honestly wasn’t bad but the texture left a bit to be desired. The folks serving it did not tell me what I’d been eating until after I was done…. good thing!
Christmas lights may be something to see at castles and lighting decorations are not as profuse as back home – you don’t see home after home awash with lights – but there’s still no lack of charm and our little French hometown is quite lovely.
Sometimes God does a quick work and sometimes it’s the road walked in patience and perseverance that leads to the accomplishment of his perfect will.
God has given us a truly wonderful little corner of the world to call home as we walk in his will.
Thank you for walking with us.
Let all you read inform your prayers for us and for France.