Hello and welcome to the last blog of 2020.
Christmas is a funny time of year at the best of times, let alone in what currently feels like the worst of times. All that pressure to make it a special day, maybe the best day of the year. You can tell a great deal about a country and how it celebrates Christmas simply by walking round the supermarket. Here in France, all seems much as usual; no trolleys overflowing with food, no long queues at the check-out. It’s nothing to do with Covid for we’ve noticed this before. They just don’t seem to eat quite as much as us! However there is one noticeable difference compared to the UK, one particular product that has taken over huge amounts of floor space, often situated close to the entrance foyer so you can pile your empty trolley up as high as you want.
Is it Champagne? Or cheese? Or wonderful patisseries?
No. It’s better than that. It’s chocolate, and not just any old chocolate. It has to be Llindt, specially packed in glitzy Christmas boxes of gold, blue and red, and stacked one on top of the other so that they look like mini-tower blocks, a veritable city of chocolates.
I knew there was a reason we moved here and this is it. Chocolate is the answer, whatever the question might be.
On a more serious note it doesn’t seem quite right to wish people a Happy Christmas, given that so many people will be without loved ones and struggling to cope with all the bad news in the papers. So what sort of Christmas should we be wishing for instead? I guess we all have to work out our own answer to that question, but here in Le Shack we are going to make our day special by planting a tree. We intend to make this a Christmas ritual, each year planting one tree, a sign of belief in the future.
This first tree will be an Acacia , and it’s a small one, so we shall have to be patient. But small as it is, I still take strength from it, knowing that spring will follow winter, that the land will be lush and green again before too long and that life will be good again.
We had always intended to spend our first Christmas here alone, a matter of choice rather than having it foisted upon us as is the case for so many people. But whilst we are apart from everyone, we still feel loved, we still feel very much part of a family and part of our community of friends. Thoughtful Christmas gifts sent through the post and on-line, even a home-made Christmas cake sent all the way from Wales, cards and emails and musings on the good things of the year, sharing of thoughts upbeat and down, still bind us together. If anything, we feel this closeness, this bond, more strongly this year because something we have all taken for granted, each other’s company, is no longer so freely available. Covid can take a great deal from us, but it can’t take away the love we feel for each other.
So this is what I wish for all of you. That whatever your situation may be, I hope that you still feel love this Christmas, both the giving and the taking, even if it is expressed over the phone rather than in person. I know it’s an old cliché, but love really does make the world a better place.
Love…… and, of course, chocolates.
The video this week got me out of bed before I’d even finished my morning tea – and it takes a lot to do that. We’ve seen these beautiful creatures several times but it always feels special. Michael opened the blinds and there they were. It’s a bit indistinct as they were just a little too far away for a clearer picture, but I hope you can still enjoy it. Apologies for the background creaking noises!
Take care and see you in January.