Christmas itself was very different to usual. I spent it in France and so lost all of the usual traditions that make it Christmas - hearing carols on the radio, seeing classic naff films on tv, eating all things related to Christmas...turkey, cranberry jelly, mince pies. all gone.
But fear not, i had my fair share of food alright. In fact, we sat down to a 7 hour Christmas Day meal. no, this is not a typo. 7 glorius hours were spent around a dinner table. 1pm - 8pm to be precise. There were 14 of Julien's nearest and dearest and the food was, well, very french. apéro - munching on what we would call snacks - peanuts, little toasts with savoury things on them and alcohol - champagne bien sur. salmon and fois gras for starters, ostrich as the meat for the main course, cheese in varying colours and whiffiness, la buche (christmas log) ice cream stylie - 3 flavours to choose from, and coffee. it went on and on. and on. I didn't drink much at all as I had been quite ill a few days before Christmas but i wish I had have done as it might have passed quicker. I even thought about the Queen's speech that i missed, the episodes of eastenders that had gone to waste and the twiglets that we being neglected back in the UK. yes, i was a bit sad. It was funny to see the drunk uncles though - they drained a bottle of digestive cognac of such. Then they promised to go for a bike ride on boxing day morning, which of course never came to fruit! ha
As for opening presents etc...the tradiation is to open the presents on Christmas Eve which was very odd to me. Also, I still feel a little uncomfortable receieving presents off Julien's family. All in all, Christmas was ok although a bit odd for me. Just not the same.
We came back to the UK on 27th to spend the New Year and my Dad's Birthday with my family. As usual I was ashamed of the state of public transport. The train got delayed by an hour when we were on it meaning the journey from London to Wales took 3 hours. A joke for the money we pay. Anyway, we arrived in one piece and had Christmas #2 a la welsh style. It was great to see my parents and recover a little bit of Christmas spirit.
I was meant to see my best friend but again due to the shocking train services, she decided to give up as a job job and stay at hers.
New Year's Eve is also my Dad's birthday and we went to get an indian take away to celebrate. I was very happy as spicy food is a bad word in france and so hadn't had a curry in yonks. It was fab. The New Year was drunk in watching Big Ben and having a webcam link to Julien's friends in France who always have a big party on New Year and were missing Julien a lot.
The few days after New Year were spent sorting all things out for my parents that they need help with - how do I replace the ink cartridge in the printer? Can you sort out the new sky box and how do i now watch a video with all the new connections (and buttons to press). I realy like helping them with these things and it brings it home that I don't see them all the time. *deep breathe Emma*
I've made a New Year's resolution although I don't know if it will be easy to keep - to stop apologising for not being French. IE, stop worrying if someone notices I make mistakes, or if people are rude to me because of it. I've lived in France two years and I've had enough of rude, narrow minded people. Last year was a toughie for me and thought on more than a few occassions to giving up on things here. I think it's time that France accepts me. Whether or not that will happen is another thing.
I've also realised recently that no matter how hard you want to keep in touch with people, unless they too want to make an effort, and value you, then there is no point in making an effort in the first place. Being away from home makes me want to stay in touch with people from home more, but it's not as easy as all that. I spent time writing Christmas cards to people that matter in my life and hardly received any back this year, not even from family. I think I'll not bother next year, save about 20 euros on cards and stamps. bah humbug and all that, but I genuinely felt sad and hurt that no one bothered about me. Like because I now live in France, then I no longer exist. Thanks. Julien sees how hurt I am, although he can't imagine how I feel as all his family and friends live in the area.
Anyhoo, what will 2008 bring my way? We're hoping to move into a bigger, less damp apartment. Then I have to decide what to do with my life. Much easier said than done. I can't seriously think about being an assistant for the 4th year, and I don't really want to go through the pain and likely failure of 'real teacher' exams. Then what else? I really wish I could just work in a café, have a circle of girlfriends that I see regulary, and have a little less stress in my life. A British girl in France can dream can't she...?