2016 marked a few firsts for me Christmas-wise. It was my first “married” Christmas, and my first Christmas not celebrated in Wisconsin with my family. If all goes well with immigration, we’ll back living in America by next Christmas... so it made sense to spend this year’s with David’s family.
David had to work on the 23rd, so we loaded up the presents and headed to Gap that Friday night when he got home. On Christmas Eve we had our very own Christmas miracle. We got our car back! Wayyyyyy back in October, we dropped off the car to be fixed. We thought we’d be picking it up one week later... but inexplicably, it wasn’t done for the next TWO AND A HALF MONTHS. They move a little slower in France. Thankfully, they gave us a rental car for that time, but still. We joked that they could have just built us a new car in that period. Or even an airplane.
Christmas Eve afternoon was spent baking. It’s not a normal occurrence for me to say I spent any time baking. Especially right now because we don’t even have a functioning oven at our apartment. But it was worth it, because we were able to bring the spirit of America to French Christmas.
David found a website that sells American products in France. We bought some ingredients for pumpkin pie, stuffing, gravy, and muffin mix (all things they don't have in France!). As desserts are my priority, I made the pie, muffins, and also some chocolate chip cookies.
Before dinner, I went out with David and his mom to see the lights in downtown Gap. We wanted to see the Christmas market too, but it was already closed by the time we got there! I liked the lights though :)
David cooked a delicious dinner because apparently both of us were feeling domestic that day. His mom set the festive table with lots of candles.
Somehow I convinced the whole family to go to midnight mass with me. I wanted to go since it's something I've never done before, and I remember learning about this tradition in my French classes.
The mass started at 11:30pm. I enjoy all of the pageantry when I hang with the Catholics. I love being in cathedrals, first of all. There was organ music going the whole time, candles, incense, processions, fancy gold pope hats, and plenty of Christmas songs. What’s not to like?
It was fun to hear and get to sing songs I know, since at the previous Catholic masses I’ve been to the songs and melodies were all things I’ve never heard. And sometimes they were in Latin.
We were impressed that the cathedral was full! Usually you don’t come across very many religious people in France, but I guess they’re at least religious on Christmas. It helped put us all in the Christmas mood; I’m glad I got to go! We didn’t get home until 1:30am... so we were all tired enough to not hear Santa sneaking around.
Maybe the Catholics have a good strategy. Make your kids go to church at midnight and then maybe they’ll be tired enough to not wake you up at 5am to open presents.
We went to (our) church on Christmas morning. It was a bit of a difference from the night before since it’s a tiny branch and there were only about 15 people there. David had fun getting to play piano (it’s easy to get roped into helping even as a visitor when there’s only a handful of people there). I have photographic proof from one of the missionaries.
Obviously it was present time after church. David’s mom/Santa spread out some treats among the presents to encourage snacking while opening. #iapprove
My favorite present was the westie calendar David surprised me with. I guess he knows me or something. I'm also excited to kick his butt in my new Paris version of Monopoly.
We had an American Thanksgiving-style Christmas dinner, again cooked by David.
After dinner I got to video chat with my family and watch Buttercup be really enthused about her presents. I love that dogs act like little kids on Christmas morning.
It was a Joyeux Noël with the Rubinos. Even if I kept forgetting in was Christmas because it was 60 degrees outside.
These are our first 2 little Christmas trees that we had in our apartment. And the pretty nativity that I bought in Strasbourg this year. I'm excited to go a little crazier with the decorations next year, when we're (hopefully!) settled down in America permanently.