Christmas only comes once a year, which I am incredibly thankful for. Firstly, my ability to act human and receive presents graciously and not cower in embarrassment like usual, only happens once a year. My wallet and my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with finding the world's perfect gift kills for one month, and then is thankfully over. And most importantly, my digestive system can not handle all the rich food and desserts that Christmas tends to chuck at you. Sure, I am a firm believer in the whole- Christmas calories do not count- but the French have still found a way make me regret that simple life motto.
The French celebrate Christmas on the night before during the "reveillon de Noel." Some families eat their enormous meal after they attend a religious ceremony, but my host family could really care less about the religious aspect of the holiday. The kids were only concerned about eating as quick as possible and then rushing off to rip open their presents that had magically appeared under the Tannenbaum (my host Mom is German and so our tree is too.)
That morning my younger sister Shannon and I decided to try Dijon again. You see, Shannon had already ventured into my city, Dijon, but she only saw the floor tiles of the Monoprix, having thrown up everywhere. She missed the cobblestone streets and tiny shops that make Dijon a pretty cool place. First, I showed her around Fixin, stopping only to drop up some presents for Andrew and Bernard family. Andrew decided to tag along with Shannon and I on our tour through Dijon.
While Andrew went off to complete his last minute Christmas shopping, Shannon trekked off to the H&M with a mission. She had fallen in love with the European Trench coat that every single girl in France owns. She was willing to pay anything for it, but H&M gave her a good deal. Shannon was happy for the rest of the day in her fancy pants new coat, all the while looking very European.
Meeting back up with Andrew, we ran around the city into a variety of different shops searching for the perfect gifts for Martine and Phillippe Bernard. By the time 5:00 came around, we had finished with everything and were ready for our return to Fixin. I had been willing to stay and show Shannon around more, but she was done with Dijon and ready to leave.
Back at the Robert's, we sat around and waited for the Christmas festivities to begin. We brought down our enormous amount of presents and placed them under the Tannenbaum, while Leonie prepared the feast in the kitchen. The others were nowhere to be seen, and I suspected that they were quickly wrapping their gifts. In my room, Shannon and I quickly took note to the fact that dinner was going to be a formal affair. The problem? I own no generally nice clothes. Shannon and I concocted two somewhat nice outfits, but still felt slightly under dressed. At 8:00, as everyone appeared in fancy dress, Jean-Francois opened the bottle of Champagne. The biggest surprise came from Shannon when she agreed to have a glass of Champagne. Me? I sort of attacked Jean-Francois when her forgot to offer me a glass. Yeah, I really do love Champagne that much! But as I was soon to learn, yet again, I can barely hold any alcohol without breaking out in a giggling fest or doing something stupid, like falling down the stairs.
After a delicious glass of Champagne, it was time for the first course of our Christmas feast. Foie Gras, or fat liver, was placed on the dinner table, and then quickly attacked by a mad French family and one oddly American teenager. (I will give you a hint: it was not Shannon) Okay, yes, I am a Vegetarian, but I can not resist the delicious taste of Foie Gras. Plus I am a Vegetarian based on the fact that meat tastes gross, not that I have a morals in killing a poor animal. Because if that was the case, then Foie Gras is absolute cruelty. They make the food by shoving a tube down a goose throat and force feeding food until the Goose pretty much bites the big one from overeating. The French do not seem to mind the cruelty, so neither do I. Shannon, however, took an immediate hatred to the stuff, and spent the rest of the night trying to forget about what she had just eaten.
Most French families sit at the table for up to three hours with up to 7 or 8 different courses, but my host family is not exactly the perfect French family. In fact after the delicious Foie Gras, Leonie called an intermission between the next dish and off we all went. I had already drank 2
The second course was scallops for those of us that liked Seafood, and Duck for those that did not.