Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas in Paris

Skating in the Grand Palais    Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on canvas   12 x 12 inches

 Christmas in Paris

Ann lives in a fourth floor walkup, near St.Germain des Pres. Going to her apartment is liking walking up to sunshine and warmth.   The rooms  are chockablock with art and doodads, an accumulation of meaningful objects over a lifetime.   It doesn’t have that heavy English accumulation of dusty extinct birds, but rather a lot of giggles on the beach or in the dark.  It was here we ate ducks and Danish pickle, radishes and potatoes on Christmas eve.

The  highlight of the evening was the   lighting  of the  Danish Christmas tree, with actual candles and sparklers.   Everyone I tell this story squeals about the danger of it, but as the Norsemen present pointed out, “everyone in Denmark does this still, with a very  fresh  tree and plenty of paying attention”.  As we shut the lights the crowd was hushed and we felt the spirit of Christmas enter the room.

For Christmas the next day at our house,  I filled stockings for the attendees:  Blair had the pleasure of going to the Port de Vanves flea market the week earlier to buy decorative spoons, a vial of ”uncut diamonds”, a  pair of earrings in a Christmas box, a bone handled jackknife…all little suprises for the stockings.  Because it was brunch, I made eggs with oriental spices over creamed spinach and onions; we ate  smoked salmon, 
bacon, sweet roasted peppers, roasted fennel, marinated eggplant, green olive tapenade,  olives,  pistachios,  seven cheeses, and poached pears.  Friends brought breads and pannetone, beverages and flowers.  We feasted for two hours before going to the piece de resistance: ice skating at the Grand Palais.

 Ice Rink   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on wood  4.5 x 13 inches

When we went to the market to buy vegetables early Christmas morning,  the Egyptian greengrocer talked to Blair about Maryam.    “Maryam is the only important woman in our holy book, and she is the mother of Jesus. We believe in Jesus, too, that he is alive and waiting in heaven for the judgment.  Maryam came to Egypt, you know, after that trouble with Jesus.  We believe she was a very wonderful woman, just like you believe.  Really, we all want the same things,” he went on.  “We want to be respected and have respect for others.”  He spoke to Blair with his hand on his heart, and it was a very touching,  almost tearful Christmas experience.

I also found a 500 euro note that day, in a very wet spot on the sidewalk near the Luxembourg Gardens.  We were walking Harika, and there it was tweaking its bright blue/purple eye at me.  It was saturated, which gave further credence to its authenticity,  which eventually proved to be false.  It made me think I had five hundred extra euros, and I lived my life more generously and with greater freedom than I might have otherwise (I didn’t find out it was fake until Thursday).

We handed out Christmas cookies to all our dog friends in the park – no matter whether it’s Christmas, or rainy or snowy, all dogs need to go out, and we make our faithful rounds with them.

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