Season's greetings! I find this greeting a wonderful way to celebrate a time, indeed a whole Season- Advent, Winter Solstice, New Year, the whole thing- rich in light and Joy and Divine message and Warmth. I don't think it is a joy restricted to Christmas or specific parties and I try and stretch the season a little more every year and one way to start it early is to go to Christmas bazaars!
A church bazaar is one of the most festive places I know. Where else does everyone call you dear even though they are really busy and you may not buy anything anyway? The Christmas church bazaar we went to a couple of weekends ago was such an event. We made it a family occasion and brought my parents too.
There were a few pieces of older linen. A whole table of baked goods featured pineapple bars and gingerbread men. As usual the book table got the better of me and I bought a Patricia Cornwell book I havent read ( I find Cornwell's murder descriptions a bit hair raising for me but I like her glimpses of joy in a hard world and her character development so much that I keep going back for more!) and I found a real Christmas gem.
This is exactly why I go to these sales: a book entitled "A cup of Christmas tea"- just glimpsing the cover is enough to put me in a Christmas mood. It conjures up spices and calico, scented evergreens; things which were not part of my childhood Christmases but that I acquired a taste for and get to visit now.
I've glanced through the book- it's a simple little story of visiting an elderly relative and unexpected Christmas joys. But it mentions such magical things as steaming cups of tea and a long chat and serene picket fences and has the kind of illustrations I can get lost in because they represent very real everyday things and yet they are not part of my own reality.
The book will be kept aside for Christmas Eve or Christmas day when my husband and I will read it and get to visit another time, another house, a second Christmas from our own.
What new Christmas places will you visit this Holiday Season?
Bonus- For a laid back and simple feeling of a different Christmas, you may want to check out "Small gifts" a Canadian Christmas movie that I came across a few years ago. Unpretentious and sweet.
Memories of France
We were away for a bit. When we came back, my dad went into the hospital for over a month, so you so, I've been quiet for a reason. But now that I'm back I thought I would let you know:
What I miss...
I miss the coffee percolator in Paris. I miss its weight, the clunking sound it made when you put its aluminium body together, the coffee in the middle.
We figured out how it worked together, it was obvious to the both of us that we must use it, instead of rushing out and getting coffee at a café each morning. I am grateful that we both took pleasure in it, this way the coffee pot became part of our personal adventure. Our coffee pot.
I miss walking around barefoot on old wood floorboards, some of them coming loose, burnished by years of use to a dark ale colour.
I miss the deep period mouldings that made me feel we were in an old derelict castle.
I miss the way in Aix you don't have to drive anywhere if you don't want to.
I miss the funny book by Jean Loup Chiflet full of cute jokes on language which appeared by magic just as I was having a hard time sleeping.
I miss the ethereal peach glow, come straight from a dream as you walk the streets of Aix after evening coffee.
I miss the pizza at Capri pizza that we used to go get late at night and waited for with a bunch of students on the street corner because there's no place to sit down.
I miss so much more than I thought I would. And I am very grateful for that.
La fin des mysteres
I'm reading the French version of Mister Y. by Scarlett Thomas and that is an extraordinary thing. I usually read in English although French is my mother tongue. It is a remarkable fact that I'm reading this book in French when I could be reading it in its original English version. I usually read in English because I find the language explains reality as I would explain it. And perhaps I find English so eloquent simply because the songs and books which are often at the forefront in my Montreal culture are in English -there's more choice. There are so many authors who write in English and who I happen to love so why would I choose to read a novel in French when I could choose its original English version?
Because of my mother's voice.
My early childhood was spent admiring the grown up novels my mother read. The covers of the mystery novels my mom read (mostly Agatha Christie) had captivating images, evocative and intense and I saw my mom at her most content when she sank behind them for a good read. I couldn't wait to share that world with her.
When I got older, 12 years old or so, I finally accessed the power to be of an age where I could understand and be interested in these more intricate, more grown up books my mom read. She had recounted some of the tales to me over time and now we got to share the details, the atmosphere, the taste of them as she read excerpts or whole stories to me. When I was sick, I was sure to request her reading from Maurice Leblanc's Arsène Lupin or Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot.
She read with a luminous understanding of the language, of the story. She commanded it, tamed it. The characters , each in turn had the right expressiveness, be it a teenage girl speaking or an old Belgian detective.. When she read a book to me, it felt like she had written it.
And this is why I read English things in French.