Well it’s just one week to go. Are you ready? It’s one of those annoying facts of growing up which means Christmas becomes more about the organisation than the magic but that’s part of the trick isn’t it: keeping the magic alive for the children and (more than a little bit) for myself. I love Christmas but organising ourselves to make sure we have everything in order to spend Christmas 500 miles way from our now home is a bit of a military operation. I’ve single-handedly kept Amazon in business for another year and made sure things get to the right addresses. I normally like to check Amazon packages in advance of gifting but I’m having to trust this year. Anything that’s not right is just too bad (there’s always the return button). My dad told me the guest double bed at their house is covered in packages. (I’m always a bit dubious with the amount of packing that Amazon use as I think it’s more than necessary).
Everything is even more fun when your little one is poorly (10 points if you detected the sarcasm). Poor Rose has been suffering with croup but is now getting better. She’s still very tired but is now getting wriggly which I always take to mean improving. The trouble is we’re all now coming down with variants of the virus too! Just in time for a 500 mile drive – eek!!
On a lighter and more Christmassy note the French really like Christmas. There have been Christmas markets galore and lights everywhere. I found the post box above and this large Père Noël adorning the streets. I’ve seen post boxes to Père Noël in the post office and there have been so many Christmas events advertised I feel like we’ve missed out. To be honest though we’ve enjoyed ourselves. We’ve been hiding indoors from the rain and wind and decorating our house. The older kids have made paper chains (one of which just fell on my head!), snowflakes and pictures and have decorated our tree. I’ve made wreaths and greenery displays. Of course there’s some Christmas crochet decorations too. My mandala/place mat is in pride of place…under one of the greenery displays and the tree is full of holly and snowflakes and stars made by my own fair hand. There is also our Christmas wall. I decided I wanted a wall full of Christmas cheer. So I got some of the lovely Christmas prints out of my Mollie Makes magazines and put them in our picture frames. The rest of the art work is by the kids. It’s all old Christmas card designs and their own pictures. I like looking at this wall over a sleepy breakfast. It makes me happy.
Then there has been the usual Christmas baking and crazy Christmas crochet gifts. Two years ago I posted about my Christmas puddings and mince meat recipes. It’s been much later than I usually make puddings but with poorly children and little enthusiasm for the task it was delayed. Suet is a difficult thing to get hold of in France but luckily I had some with me and one of Frank’s colleagues who was popping over from the UK brought some over for us so we’re now fully stocked. I made lots of pies over the weekend. The puddings are steaming as we speak and I’ve decided that as we have a little one spare we’re having one for pudding tonight. Put away those scales until New Year, I’m not interested for now.
So in the Yarn household we are getting in the festive spirit although, I’m not going to lie, it’s been a tough year. Christmas has arrived as we’ve all hit the “what have we done?!” moment and it’s the light relief and perfect excuse to visit the UK for a few days. We love our new home and our new life but nothing is settled yet. We’re all still struggling with the language so every single day and every outing we have to think. I’ve perfected two lines in French that I can now say like a native which are basically me apologising for not speaking enough French or not understanding. I’m getting braver and the kids are doing amazingly well. Frank has had it really tough as he’s not had any time to adjust. The rest of us had a little down time to get used to things but he was thrown straight in to working his new job whilst finishing off his old. How his brain hasn’t exploded I don’t know. Mine has several times.
There have been emotions running very high these last four months and we’re exhausted by it. So for us Christmas is very welcome and in the New Year the kids start a new school….again! Basically the school they were attending was a 20 minute drive away which in the morning turned into an hour’s drive so the waking up time was really early. Add to that some issues with some personnel (I’d like to be honest about the other school and say no one was treated horribly. It was more a personality clash than anything but I am going to bring it to the attention of the head.) and I inquired at the local school. They said they’d take them as they’d pick up the language fast enough and it’s a lovely place. The staff are friendly and excited about the fact we hail from bonny old England. We went to their Christmas market last Friday and Finn picked up the lovely hyacinth display pictured. Everything at the market was made by the kids. It’s a great idea and loads of fun too. Our kids are now very excited about the new term. I just have to wade through the paperwork and make sure they have everything.
So as the year comes to a close and we prepare to start another anew I can honestly say this has been a great year. It’s one of the hardest, most challenging years I’ve ever had as a wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend in my life but I am so glad we did it. Yes, we’re going to wobble and yes, we’ve had lots of tears but we’re human and change is hard. I look back to June when we firmly decided to make the leap out her: we were on holiday in Italy at the time and we asked the kids “Do you want to move to France?” Their eyes lit up and “Yes!” was the answer. Frank and I had been discussing it and he’d been attending interviews since March but that holiday in Italy changed our future. I’d known since April/May we’d do it. We went to a fire festival over the May day bank holiday and I had one of those moments of foresight. I remember sitting by a bonfire and thinking “If we want to come here next year we’ll need to catch a ferry.” It was a thought that made me smile and still does.
I’ll see you in the New Year.
Merry Christmas everyone,
Love, Josie. Xxx