Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! When it is cold outside it is wonderful to be warm indoors, surrounded by the sparkle of Christmas decorations and the delicious smells wafting from the kitchen. This morning I made chicken stew while we were opening gifts so we could enjoy the savory aroma filling the house.
In the German tradition, there are boxes of cookies, not stockings under the tree, so my husband was busy trying to track down German cookies this week, which took him to Dittmer’s Gourmet Meats and Wurst-Haus. Here is the resulting cookie box:
My favorite Christmas decorations this year came from Paris. The porcelain boxes are Limoges, probably from the 1950s, and I discovered them at a bargain price in a wonderful alley of antique shops in the Marailles district of Paris. It turns out that on Sundays, all the antique sellers on rue Saint Paul open up their shops and display their antiques on tables in the little cobblestone courtyards behind their stores.
Nearby patisseries sell long sheets of pink and yellow marshmallows and red candied apples on sticks. At a tiny little café, I had the best fish I ate in Paris, a crispy trout with lemon cream sauce. My husband contented himself with a green salad and Berthillons’ famous chocolate and caramel ice cream. To remind him of our Paris adventure, for Christmas I bought him this marvelous pictorial book by Vahram Murattan:
My favorite page is devoted to emoticons in which the author contrasts the pessimistic French attitude with buoyant American positivism:
Considering that entire sections of films have been devoted to the French pout, it seems only fair that emoticons should reproduce it as well with a resounding "non!" As for the American "can do" attitude expressed by the smiley face, you don't realize what a comfort it is until you are traveling somewhere else and all you hear is "non!"
I kept my Christmas eve table decorations simple last night as three of our guests were under seven years old. While I worked on the wild mushroom cream sauce topping, my husband was flipping crepes on the stove like a professional chef. Eli, a dinner guest approaching his fourth year solemnly declared, "I quite like this when it's brown" as my husband hustled to flip the crepe for him until it was puffy and seared to his liking.
Now that Christmas day is here, the carols are in full swing and we are opening gifts and sampling the German cookies from the box. My father sent a French pronunciation CD so I can daydream about going back. And I received a wonderful surprise gift from my Aunt, who is herself a very skilled knitter:
And a total surprise from my husband!
I was so overwhelmed when I unwrapped the pin, I just sort of babbled for a long time and then I ran to try it on with my Coco cardigan. At last I am finally happy with the fit of my jacket—the pin is so strong that it holds the jacket fronts in place and it looks right.
What greater happiness can there be? Love and Gratitude, whether in snowy Whoville where the Grinch resides or Paris or here in warm Sunnyvale. Merry Christmas to all!