Sunday, January 31, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside

Growing up in America, I learned that Christmas cards are supposed to be sent before Christmas. OK, that’s not exactly true. My mother has always insisted that the “Twelve Days of Christmas” grant one a 12-day extension—from December 25 to January 6—but even she must admit that Epiphany is the absolute limit of what good Christmas card-sending etiquette will allow. This is yet another reason why my parents should move to France, where the custom is to send Christmas cards all through the month of January. Hence, on this final day of the month, the Christmas season in France officially draws to a close. And I must admit, it has left me a bit melancholy.

Christmas is something that I look forward to for roughly half the year. Being of firm Cancerian nature, I can’t help myself. I may have hit 30, but Christmas to me still means magic: it means the Nutcracker; it means Handel; it means the heavenly smell of Douglas firs and a festive array of Norwegian specialties like lefse and julekake, lovingly baked by my mother every year. In short, Christmas means Home, wrapped and adorned in all the best of what the subconscious associates with it. When I fall asleep in December, I dream of sipping mulled wine at Fezziwig’s Christmas party.

But when the holiday season draws to an end and life returns to normal, I find myself suffering from a sort of emotional hangover. I leave the festivities and my family behind once more and return to Paris, which may be my adopted home but somehow never seems less welcoming than when I land at Charles de Gaulle airport after the Christmas holidays, my suitcase heavy with gifts and my heart heavy with farewells, to gray Paris skies and bitter January cold. In a city where winter temperatures arrive in November and can sometimes stick around right through March, January is a month that Parisians just grit their teeth and get through. There are of course some “winter people” out there, those thermally-misguided few who embrace the cold and find some sort of bizarre fulfillment in wrapping themselves in coats, scarves, hats, gloves, boots, etc. Not me. Once Christmastime is over and presents put away, I don’t care to see a single snowflake floating down from above, no matter how pretty they are or how ardently I may have celebrated their appearance only a month prior.

If I had it my way, the year would progress as follows: April, May, June, July, August, September, October, December. The only downside that I can see to this abbreviated approach is that I would now be 15 years older than I actually am, which would automatically skip me right over the whole child-bearing period and would thus deprive the world of my future scionstruly a shame. On the other hand, I would also be that much closer to retirement, which almost makes giving up said future scions worthwhile.

But alas, winter for the moment is showing no signs of letting up. Snowflakes continue to fall, night continues to reign, and if I am to believe what Ive just heard on the news, it aint over yet. But we shall not give up all hope: spring is surely out there somewhere, just waiting for the right moment to show her lovely face (right? Right?). So until then, G. and I will continue to hunker down, warming ourselves with comfort food and 14% ABV reds, until that blessed day when Old Man Winter finally decides to shuffle off.

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog! Reading your narrative takes me back to Paris Dec. 1998--frozen ground and dim skies. Keep entertaining us!