School closing, car doors freezing shut, wind whipping down the street so quickly you think it might take out a telephone pole and looking out your window only to see a blur of white can only mean one thing. Michigan has once again turned into a snow globe and the holidays are here! Maybe it is the lack of snow or perhaps it’s that there is no “24 hours of a Christmas Story” marathon on tv, but somehow I kind of forgot it was the holidays. I suppose I’vekind of gotten so caught up in my classes that I skipped over the fact that Christmas is just around the corner.
There are Holidayish things going on around St. Etienne of course. There are light displays near the tram stations. Some apartments are decked out with blinking florescent lights and Santa Claus figures. In the middle of town there is a big Christmas market where you can buy jewelry, food and my all time favorite, hot spiced wine. Yummmmm. When I was walking around Roanne last weekend, I noticed they even stepped up their game and have Christmas music playing from the loudspeakers in the shopping area of town. It’s odd to hear English Christmas music playing over the speakers, but it is fun to listen to everyone try and sing along. (Well not really singing. They sing the parts everyone knows and then kind of mumble the rest of the lyrics. So it sounds like “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way… oh hmm hmm…. It… hmmm.hhmm. hmmm. In a hmm. Hmm. Hmm elghh.. ohh! Jingle bells….”)
To get in the holiday spirit, I was invited to go see a Christmas play with the family I am living with. The actors in the play were all community members and all volunteered to act, build the set and make the costumes. I was extremely impressed with the show. They had tons of music, amazing costumes and a great set which must have took ages to build. The acting wasn’t top notch, but the animations and light displays were awesome for a community play!
Although I do love the hot wine and enjoy being able to walk outside without having to dig a hole through the snow to get out the front door, I sure do miss celebrating the holidays at home. I admit, this weekend while walking around listening to Christmas music really made me homesick. I started thinking about family and friends at home and how joyful this time of year is in the mitten. Sledding in the park, going to relatives on Christmas Eve, sitting cozily by the fireplace in the living room, romping around in the snow, driving around seeing the houses smothered in lights and complaining about the bad weather, although every Michigander knows that snow is a necessary part of Christmas. I love France and they definitely win when it comes to cuisine, but when it comes to celebrating the holidays America definitely takes first place
I will miss another Michigan Christmas, but I am grateful to be celebrating with Dimitri and his family this year. We will be celebrating in Roanne with his family then heading up to Brittany to visit some family friends. It will be my first time exploring this region of France, and I have always wanted to go there. Expect some good pictures and stories to come!
I wish all of you a very warm and happy holiday season. May you cherish every moment spent with the loved ones around you and take the time to sit back, relax, forget about bad weather, stress and problems and simply enjoy this time of the year.