Chapter Sixty-Six      January, 2012

What could be more enchanting than Thanksgiving in Paris?  Absolutely nothing.  Unlike previous years in countries with limited provisions, Paris offers every ingredient we could wish for right down to fresh cranberries.  We were even able to make soupy corn casserole, a specialty of Sharon’s Mom’s.  This being our first Thanksgiving without her, the casserole was important.  So we celebrated in style and invited two other Americans in the marina to help consume the smallest turkey we could find, 3 kilos.  We were frantic when we realized the bird wouldn’t fit in the oven.  But a quick dash to the supermarket for a crushable boiler pan solved the problem while adding another “Thank You” to our gratitude list.  Even without the Macy’s parade, a football game or a crackling fire, Thanksgiving in Paris was wonderful. 

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Of course December was spent taking in the magic of Paris and Christmas.  Paris was just alive with Christmas.  The annual nationwide telethon kicked off Paris’ Christmas season.  Some of the activities used our marina as a venue, so we were treated to floating spectacles, several bands, even a high-wire act out over the boats moored along the canal.

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There is no end to the beauty of Paris’ shops adorned with beautiful things, window displays and perfectly coiffed shoppers. Sometimes it’s more fun to study the shoppers than the merchandise!  Every street was lit, every doorway was decorated.  Sharon combed the neighborhoods for the best décor.  St. Germain won the prize, decked in champagne flutes.  St. Louis came in a close second, dressed mostly in purple. 

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With our Christmas shopping complete and packages in the mail before Thanksgiving, we were well into the Christmas spirit, loving the crowds of shoppers.  So we often strolled the back streets of our neighborhood just to take it all in, again.  It almost seemed like we were Parisians.  We felt so at home we even took to helping a struggling old lady with her bags.

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We were fortunate enough to attend the Christmas concert at Notre Dame.  The music was largely traditional French songs, and unfamiliar to us, but the spectacle and the venue were fabulous.  Sharon says one of the best parts was seeing the cathedral lit only by its elegant chandeliers.

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You know, there actually is something more enchanting than Thanksgiving in Paris:  Christmas in Germany with the Shrys. This is our fourth Christmas together; this year in picture-perfect Landstuhl.

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We were pretty well charged with the spirit of Christmas before we arrived, but the welcoming of two very enthused children, the smell of warm Christmas cookies and a tall sparkling tree topped us up.  It was time to visit German Christmas markets, get in some last minute shopping, nibble on some flammekuchen and frites and generally stand by ready for Santa’s arrival.  There was some disagreement on the spelling of “Noël,” as the stockings were hung. 

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After Christmas Eve’s reading of “The Night Before Christmas,” – Eric only editorialized once, reading “…as visions of sugar plums danced in their greedy little heads…” - we joined in the work of the elves readying the house for Christmas morning.  The children decided they would wake us all by 6:00 a.m., so the adults retaliated by sealing up their bedroom doors with an alternate schedule.  (Note the message in the photo.)  It should also be noted that Ethan was not impressed.

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The Shrys had the idea that the menu of the week should be an international one since we have spent Christmas together in Turkey, Tunisia and now Germany. We had Italian one night, Thai another, even Mexican.  When it was our turn to prepare the meal, however, our assignment was “Estonian.”  We are still unclear as to how Estonia made the list, but with a little help from the Internet we managed to convince those assembled that our meal of pork and potatoes qualified. 

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We do love being with the Shrys.  The entire family is in motion.  Christmas Eve was spent tying Audrey’s long hair into tight twists so it would be special for Christmas.  After opening presents Christmas morning, Ethan (age 12) retired to his room with one of his new Christmas books; he completed it before bedtime.  While he was reading, Audrey (age 10) is peppering Sharon with questions about fashion and showing off her newest dance routines.  The next day, while Sharon, Rachel and Audrey locked themselves into a “Project Runway” marathon, Ethan pulled out his Legos and built not one, but three operating robots, complete with ultrasonic sensor and color analyzer.  Between these playful pursuits, he was busy creating apps for his iPad and iPhone. 

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Back to Paris for New Years. We’re not big fans of New Years’ Eve celebrations, but how can you not celebrate when in Paris?  So we had a delightful evening with three guests.  And then we headed for the Champs-Elysées.  It was unseasonably warm and the streets were packed.  We roamed for a while before grabbing a spot across from the Eiffel Tower.  Midnight struck.  The corks flew, the crowds cheered and kissed and danced.  And the Tower twinkled.  Perfect!

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Stay tuned for our spring plans!

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