Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas gallops towards us...

I suppose I had always known it, but this year I am even more aware - that Advent is generally spent rushing about buying presents, writing cards and generally getting more or less stressed by the pressures of advertising and the need to "get it all done."
Why am I more aware? This year I am deliberately taking Advent at a more leisurely and measured pace. Like the little donkey who is led up the main street in Taize each Sunday morning to spend the day grazing and being fed and stroked I am not rushing.
My dear dear friend Jan has been an advocate of lists for all the time I have known her - she is incredibly organised and I always admired that in her and that her organisation included a well ordered household with her chalkboard always used as a shopping list or urgent reminder... The busier we are it seems the more organised we have to be; but now we are no longer in that sense busy. Life in France is definitely in a slower gear -about second I think, so there is ample time to consider what needs to be done, what gifts to buy and for whom, whether to send cards (we've decided against it this year), a newsletter - yes to that as we can really keep in touch that way - especially as we can direct people to this blog if they are interested in learning more - its up to them if they wish to read it!
I've had a bit of time to be more creative this year and I have made most of the gifts we will give. It's meant that I have put time into the creation of them and to me that is really important.
The Christmas tree and the outside lights went up at the beginning of Advent - simply because we felt it was part of the preparation of Advent - the greetings and the lights reminding our neighbours and friends that we are taking the season seriously.
We have even put up the Advent calendar and each day we are adding a figure to the nativity scene.

I can remember years when we didn't get around to doing this at all and when Hannah and I went out to buy a tree in the semi-darkness in the last few days before Christmas!
I hope that our celebration of Christmas will be the better for our slower pace and hopefully more thoughtful approach.
However, we are spending Christmas in England and I have already braved a big shop on line for groceries - so so strange when we are used to popping into Cluny a couple of times a week to buy fresh meat. fish and vegetables. We don't often eat from the freezer - saving that in case we are ill or snowed in!
Talking of snow, we had a bit of that last week - enough to make a bit anxious!

But it was also quite beautiful and atmospheric. I'm hoping there will be more that we can enjoy and photograph when we get back for the feast of St Sylvestre - which is New Year to you and me!
As for food, I had an interesting conversation with our delightful neighbour Martine who told me a little about the festive Christmas meal. Often it is eaten on Christmas Eve and rarely is turkey - more often goose and/or roast beef. Stuffing is unheard of in France! What are they missing I thought! Chestnuts figure in the meal, and no Christmas pudding  - its buche de Noel - Christmas log - but not like we know it - they are so elaborately decorated and the centre is a mousse of raspberry, chocolate or strawberries - they looked sumptious in the chocolatier's window - and I'm sorry that I didn't have the camera with me!
We may not have had much snow but we have had a lot of rain recently and the valley below us, with the Grosne river winding through has been in flood. I did have the camera with me for that!
We are off to a concert tomorrow given by the local choir and we are looking forward to hearing carols - French ones - and do you know we haven't heard or sung one English carol - YET! -
Now that's what I call Advent!!!

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