I am trying to remember my most favourite Christmas?
Conjuring up memories… reminiscing over years gone by and slowly re-tracing time and picturing the celebrations as they were.
The friends, the family… the fuss and the fanfare… Truthfully, it is a jumble in this mind of mine… a kaleidoscope of glitter, tinsel and sparkle… The scrapbook of memories looms large as the holidays approach.
My first and only Christmas in Paris happened long ago… long before I had dreams of a French life… long before Europe was home… it was a time when all I knew were hot Christmas days.
My Aussie Christmas was tinged with blues and mauves… of the Jacaranda trees, the Agapanthus and the Hydrangeas.
Chestnuts roasting and snow laden pine trees were the stuff of fairytales… Until I went to Paris.
Looking back… twenty eight years to be exact, I can still remember the feel of the cold on my face and the freezing sting in my fingertips.
I can picture what I was wearing… the sweater, the pants, the coat…my hair… I can see the handsome face of my husband… we were two kids starting out in life on a great adventure.
I don’t think we knew just how great back then.
There is so much wonder in the unknown… we just didn’t realise.
When we wandered in the Jardin des Tuileries that Christmas day we didn’t know that so much of our lives would be spent in France.
We had no anticipation of the emotional investment we would make in that foreign land.
How could we have foreseen that Paris would be a city that we would grow to love, that would hold special memories for us?
From the top of the Eiffel Tower, looking out, we had no idea that we would have three children, that they would speak French and that the home they would spend most of their Christmases in would be in France.
Falling in love with Provence? Unimaginable.
As we cruised down the Seine on one of the Bateaux Mouches, how could we predict that the main ‘tourist attractions’ of Paris would become familiar landmarks to us.
On that day we were filled with wonder for Les Invalides, Notre Dame, for the Louvre, Le Sacre Coeur and the Arc de Triomphe… for the glory and grandeur that is Paris.
Now those places are like old acquaintances…we see each other from time to time… we enjoy the moment and yet we are not compelled to be in constant touch.
The tastes of that Christmas were also firsts.
All that is so familiar now… so routine… so much a part of my shopping list… was new and different.
I have acquired a European palette… an appreciation for the importance of season when it comes to eating.
I have adopted the traditions of the northern hemisphere. Who would have thought?
My passion for decorating and my desire to create a festive atmosphere over the holidays could well have stemmed from that Parisian Christmas.
The joy of witnessing that which had been purely folklore to an an Aussie girl was nothing short of miraculous.
My eyes were widened and it would seem that they have stayed that way ever since… xv