It’s here. The moment I’ve been nervous about since September. By tomorrow morning most of my friends will have trained or planed home to other parts of France or Europe, or even back to the States. I will be in Epinal until Dec. 21, which happens to be exactly three months after my arrival and what many people would pinpoint as the end of the “honeymoon period” of culture shock.
I’ve been terrified that the timing and the fact that this is my first holiday season away from home would be a one-two punch to my happiness and health in France. Not to jinx myself, but I think I was more prepared this time around. I could be facing a rough week, but so far I’ve been busy menu planning for Paris and the worst I’ve done is break into my aunt’s Christmas present because I have no wine in the house. (Don’t worry, it’s replaceable). And there’s a promise of snow over the next few days, which is perfect timing for a lady who has no place to go but out into it. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! I’ve also been able to do a lot of things here that I am thrilled about, such as reveling in Christmas markets, tasting chestnuts actually roasted on an open fire, and seeing Christmas in Paris.
That said, there are definitely things that I will be missing.
* “Rip and Tear! Make it Dance!” Some of the silliest traditions are the ones that stick with you, such as yelling “MAKE IT DANCE!” every time a present is opened. I don’t care if no one is watching, I’ll still be doing it.
* Hugs. Hugs. Hugs. The French don’t know that the “bise” just doesn’t provide the same oxytocin release as a good ol’ American hug.
* Baking pumpkin bread for friends and colleagues. The number one thing I intend to do in Paris is cook and bake. Look out!
* Curling up with my sisters on Christmas Eve and watching The Grinch, cartoon version. Yes, I am 26 years old.
* A big family meal. I can’t decide if I’d rather attempt to make it for two this year, or go out to dinner and act fancy. Fancy in French = “C’est la classe!”
* Singing. As I’ve mentioned before, my family is big on vocal traditions, and I was lucky to be able to belt out some Christmas tunes last Saturday.
* Counting Christmas-lit houses. An annual tradition on the way home from Grandma’s. I tried to do it on the bus from Mirecourt, but I fell asleep!
* A fire in the fireplace. What’s the good of having a gorgeous Parisian apartment if you’re not allowed to build a fire in it? I’m a cat in human form, I need one.
But the thing I’ll miss most is: you! And you, and you, and you.