Yesterday was the last day of school for the kids.
What a difference from “last days of school before Christmas” when I was young. We’d been piling on and off the long yellow school buses in bulky snowsuits for weeks by the time Christmas vacation rolled around. Here… I’m still looking at green grass and we’ve barely seen an honest-to-goodness snowflake to date.
It’s been a while since you’ve had a regular post, so here’s to a taste of regularity. Grab your cup of coffee & let’s dive in…
Looking for Christmas Spirit
On one had, Christmas is more subdued here. Rare are the homes that are bountifully lit up with colourful lights. There are a handful here in Châtellerault, but that’s about it. Even our house has no outdoor lights (it pains me to say it). While I can’t speak for the others, in our case, it’s because there are no external plugs. (I mean really… who builds a house with no external plugs!?!?!) So in order to have lights where we could see them or along the front of the house, we’d need to run an extension cord out the patio door – hence leaving the door cracked open… uhhhh, no.
So, in the absence of seeing oodles of Christmas lights at every turn, we have to go looking for Christmas vibes.
We did just that last Saturday.
Christmas at Azay-le-Rideau Castle
Normally, the second Saturday each month involves me trucking up to Melun for Bible school. Exceptionally though, I didn’t have to teach last weekend, so we made a point to do something special in stead.
Many of the castles in the area do up wonderful Christmas displays, so we decided to take in one of them. We headed up to Azay-le-Rideau, about an hour away from us. This was one of the first castles I visited in the area, on a trip back in 1995. Perhaps because of that and perhaps because it’s really ‘human-sized’, I’ve always loved it.
I’ll do a separate post on it at some point because there are far too many pictures to include in a regular post like this one, but it really did feel like Christmas. Aside from the decorated trees, lights and presents, they also had an assortment of displays done up by a master paper-machée artist. (Note: … NOTHING like the paper-machée mask I made in elementary school!).
It was nice to get away for the day and do something a bit out of the ordinary. When at home, so often we’re all busy about our various activities, interests, etc., coming together at mealtime.
I’ll tell you what… we’re blessed with kids who love each other heaps and get along really well together. We thank the Lord for that.
Winding up the week
Even our Cheesy Christmas has fallen victim to business. I was away house-sitting one night last week and then there was always something for several nights after that.
As a result, we made a point, on Thursday night, to get caught up with the cheeses from days 11-16.
This made for an interesting experience. Normally, with only one cheese at a time, you have a chance to savour each one without mixing flavours. Tackling six in one go meant having mandarines on hand to cleanse the palet after each cheese so that we could start afresh.
It didn’t always help though… there were a couple of strong cheeses that, in Timo’s words, “Attacked your mouth!” (I’ll post the individual cheeses so you get a sense of each one).
Since the Spring, any of you who follow me on Instagram will have occasionally seen pictures of fish. I picked up a little 10L (2.5 gallon) fish tank back in April or May. That was tank #1, on the left. It gave me a lot of enjoyment, so I picked up similar-sized bowl (actually a large cookie-jar) from a liquidator shop a few months ago.
They’re both planted tanks with real plants. This gives me a bit of a gardening fix as well.
I think that one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed them so much is that it gives me two tiny little worlds that I can, more or less, control and look after.
So much about the past two years has felt “out of control”, not the least of which is Covid, but other things too. Some things, administratively in France simply boggle my mind. Things that, in North America, could be dealt with in a matter of minutes, days or a couple of weeks at most, are consistently stretched out into months here. To complicate things even more, Covid measures have meant much more difficulty seeing actual humans and having to go through emails, electronic document submissions and long delays.
As a rule the French know VERY LITTLE about customer satisfaction and timely customer service.
… and you have no control over it.
We’ve experienced that seeming lack of control on a number of different levels. So oddly enough, these two little tanks have been a bit like cheap therapy.
I suspect that this “weird funk” as my kids would call it, has been partially responsible for my lack of regularity here on the blog this fall. It’s not always easy to put your best foot forward when that foot is stuck in the mud so-to-speak. That being said…
New Year in View
We’re only days away from the start of a new year and those times tend to be days filled with hope for new beginnings and the possibility of change.
For our New Year there will indeed be change, as far as the kids go:
- Dominic leaves on January 2nd for another month-long internship in Madrid. He will stay with the same family and attend the same great church, but will be with a different company this time around.
- Timo will also begin a multi-week internship with a local optician. He’s a hard worker and always well appreciated in his internships.
- Sophie will not have to return to classes in January with the rest of her classmates because her semester will start in Bucharest, Romania in early February.
I have a few plans for change in the New Year as well, but I’ll discuss that more as time goes on. Plans are good… they give you something to work toward and… ultimately… a little more feeling of control in a world that is, on many levels, out of control.
What would we do if we did not know that God who IS in control of all things, perceptions and appearances aside?
Thanks for stopping by today… I hope your coffee’s still hot!
God bless you!