Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas calm

I have often been asked about the differences between Christmas in France and the United States. And certainly one word comes to mind immediately: calm. It is pretty quiet around here.

In France, nearly everyone has stopped working. Most salaried positions have a two-week holiday.

And so it was not much of a surprise to see a large crowd gathered at the Place du Forum to watch an old-fashioned family circus perform.

People of all ages clapped and cheered as a loopy old clown rang bells.

Others gossiped leisurely at the café across the street.

The streets were nearly empty. Last minute shoppers strolled arm in arm, popping in and out of the small local boutiques.

Only the hair salons were abuzz as everyone (including Remi and I) got a final brushup for les fêtes.

And now, it is time to cook. Remi has thoughtfully planned out what should be a wonderful dinner for two: scallops stuffed with foie gras and wrapped in bacon to start followed by turbot in a langoustine bisque. 

Champagne is being chilled.

In France, it is less about the presents, so there is no frenzy or marathon wrapping sessions. Actually, we are just giving each other two presents this year, one big and one small, something which is just fine by me. 


It is a gift in itself. Now it is time to exhale and be grateful for being here. For being.

"Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on,
Our troubles will be out of sight..."

We will be heading out tomorrow to spend Christmas with friends in Menton and then are heading up to the cottage in the Luberon for the end of the year. To rest. As always, the internet connection is touch and go there, so I am not sure if I will be posting or not.

So I will take this time to wish those that are celebrating a very Merry Christmas and to all...a Happy New Year! Thank you for being here...
With my Very Best Wishes from my family to yours,
Heather, Remi, Ben & Kipling


  1. Sounds like the song, "all is calm, all is bright" . . .a beautiful day you have planned. I'll tip my bubbly glass tonight your direction as we begin a similar low-keyed holiday. Among my gifts are the friendships made along the way. . .I am so happy to have yous ~ albeit through your blog ~ a part of my life!

  2. Oh yes, my kind of Christmas. Calm. Wishing you health and happiness, Heather.

  3. Dear Heather,
    My warmest good wishes for a very MERRY CHRISTMAS
    and a healthy and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


    Tres amicalement, Karin

  4. Heather, thank you for this year of such lovely posts! They are quite thoughtful and thought-provoking and always artfully done! If that last picture isn't the epitome of calm, I don't know what is! :)

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  5. Yes, it is calm. How wonderful! Merry Christmas, Heather!

  6. Dear Heather, wishing you and Remi a very happy Christmas, and a time of peace and reflection and calm! Thank you for your blog posts, I always enjoy them with my morning coffee.
    Cheers, Deborah from Melbourne.

  7. Merry Christmas, Heather. Today is calm as I do last minute prep for Christmas tonight. Tomorrow will be less so with 10 of us (including 2 little ones) gathered for dinner. But so much love mingles with the commotion. I wish you much joy and peace as you celebrate. Joyeux Noel.

  8. Merry Christmas and a very happy new year to you two and the lovely furry ones! You've chosen verses from my favourite Christmas song. I recently learned the original lyrics were so gloomy they have been revised several times over the years. The ones we now know were revised for Frank Sinatra who only agreed to record the song after some further toning down.

  9. Merry Christmas, Heather, Remi, Ben and Kipling! The calm Christmas you describe sounds wonderful...room for awe (if one is so inclined) and savoring of the beauty all around. We are all gathered in a lovely little rental cottage in the Oakland hills...all nine of us, so there are periodic cacaphonies but it is merry! Except it feels like it could be any time of the year. I do love the sunshine and gentle smiles we have encountered in the City as well as in and around Berkeley and Oakland...and the doggies are having a great time running in the hills. I will be thinking of you as you kick back in the lovely Luberon. XOXOXO, Leslie, Scott, Henry and Bob...plus Emma, Johnny, Shadia and Fabien and Jabberwocky

  10. You are MY GIFT!I love every post you have done and will do…………although I have to say I adored the RED BLOG!!!!The old look……..would you consider going back to that after the calm?
    Do you read MIMI THORINSON's blog MANGER??She lives close to MENTON I think!If you see her with her gorgeous and I mean GORGEOUS children will you say hello from me!Her husband too is a photographer!She loves to cook as YOU two do!I think I have made a match if you do not know each other!!!They use to live in PARIS TOO!Tis Christmas Eve here…………….am waiting on the BOYS to stroll in……and then its time for a little PROSECCO!XXX

  11. To Heather, Remi, Ben & Kipling

    "Someday soon, we all will be together
    If the fates allow
    Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
    So have yourself a merry little Christmas now."

    Now I am off to watch my favorite Christmas Eve movie...."Meet Me In St. Louis".
    Love and everything,

  12. Dear Heather, with your stories all year round you brought some thoughtful as well as cheerful moments into my life I hope you will continue in that way how you write about daily things and I am looking forward. For 2014 I wish you
    and your husband health and success to find your new home and a lot of fun with your buddies Kipling and Ben.

  13. Merry Christmas, Heather! Have a great time with your friends, then enjoy the peace and quiet of your place in the country. Sending love and wishes for a very Happy and Healthy New Year!

  14. Ohhh...I think someone just got a bath! (Ben). What a beautiful post - the calm emanates from the page/screen! I read this earlier this afternoon, having shopped for 3 1/2 hours at the mall, Target, Kohl's, etc, with other crazy shoppers and frenetic drivers on the roads. I felt the exact opposite of "calm"! Eventually, after much present-wrapping, rolo-turtle making (mmm), house-cleaning and dog-walking, I enjoyed a lovely evening. But we were still opening presents (the kids' presents) until 10:30 p.m.!!! Yes, CALM sounds sooooo wonderful - what's wrong with us crazy Americans?? I love the pic of your golden house reflected in the window with the star ornament, as well as the first picture, where the person taking a picture reminds me of you and Remi! I am so happy that you have wonderful plans for the next week but we will miss you like crazy tomorrow (oops - today!). Can't wait to talk to you! Merry Christmas, beautiful, talented sister!!! I love you!!!!!

  15. Merry Christmas Heather to you and Remi (and the pups)! I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to meet while I was here in Arles but I thank you for all of your wonderful suggestions and help while we are here. Every time I was on the streets I looked for a red head with her 2 dogs. You live in a wonderful city and it was so very peaceful and calm walking around last night. I will continue to read your blog after returning to the US and fondly remember my Christmas in Provence.

  16. You're so right about friends asking what Christmas is like in France. Calm. Ahh.. I sometimes stream radio stations from my home town during the holidays and think how exhausting it all sounds. Even though I miss my friends and family back home, I truly appreciate the modest way we spend the holidays here. Merry Christmas!!

  17. Merry Christmas Heather,

    We are in Atlanta enjoying The holiday with daughter number two and their four teenagers. They will have 25 for dinner. mostly their very interesting friends;doctors, professors and cnn reporters...all gathered around an enormous table with wonderful food. I thankful to be part of it.

    Your calm sounds inviting too. Merry Christmas!

  18. Merry Christmas Heather. I like the idea of a calm Christmas. It has become very commercial here :( Anyway, the best part of Christmas is spending it with loved ones.

  19. This was absolutely lovely, my dear H. Thank you for this gift. I enjoyed it immensely.

    Merry Christmas and may the year close with deep tranquility and the courage to embrace 2014 for all that it will be. I left you a little something over at the Coffee.


  20. Calm, rest and lovely food; beautiful. Blessings to you.

  21. Christmas is for families and friends and without the frenzy of commercialism.
    I’m glad you and Remi had a bright Christmas day. Ben and Kipling were contented.

    Christmas eve we spent with our son, Greg, and Therese and family. On Christmas day we were with our daughter, Tina, and Tim and family.

    Mrs. Abstract and I returned home later in the evening and opened our simple gifts for each other.

    Today, staying home.

    Mrs. Abstract and I wish you and Remi a safe, healthy, happy 2014.

  22. You will be travelling now and I know how much fun you guys will have with your friends.
    Wishing all four of you the most wonderful and happy 2014 !!
    sending love....

  23. Calm. Yes. I remember spending Christmas in Normandy some years back . Lovely.

  24. I hope you had a Merry Christmas Heather. The meal that Remi planned sounds wonderful. Enjoy your time in the Luberon. Happy New Year.

  25. 2 week break! The salaried types would not do well in the American workplace! I dont know ANYone who takes a two week break at the holidays! Calm indeed!

  26. Thank you so much everyone for all of your amazing responses!!!
    Have a Happy and Safe New Years eve...

  27. So beautiful. And the MOST delicious sounding Christmas dinner ever! Here's to an abundant and delicious and joyous new year, xxxx G


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