Unconventional Christmas

A 'green' Christmas tree made of plastic bottles

Hello friends,

I hope you had a wonderful weekend full of warmth and good cheer.

Mine was laid-back but lovely.

On Saturday I finally went to Angelina to try their famous hot chocolate. I was tickled to be a tourist in my adopted city for Christmas – what better time? Angelina has a grand dining room and the hot chocolate does not disappoint.

Next I strolled from the Tuilieres to the Marais where my friend and I grabbed a falafel.

Yes, my Christmas Eve dinner was a falafel from a Rue des Rosiers joint. As we sat eating our falafels on a stoop (classy all the way), we remarked this was the fun of being an expat, especially during the holidays: no rules. No expectations. You make it up as you go.

Hotel de Ville

Continuing on with the unconventional Christmas Eve I then watched a decidedly un-Christmasy movie with another friend (“The Getaway” with Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw).

Not always falafel. Every once in a while a nice dinner out, too. Here at Au Petit Thai.

The next day I took it easy (yeah, as if the day before had been difficult!) then was adopted by my friend and her family for a proper French-American-Scottish Christmas dinner.

This is another cool thing about being an expat during the holidays: friends take you in.

Buche de Noel - see how it glows!

The onion soup and confit de canard were delicious, but the Buche de Noel made me laugh. The traditional “Yule Log” was yet another French thing I’ve seen for years, but never tried. For me, it was confirmed why. It’s cute and all, but wasn’t really that tasty. I love that shot of it up there, though. Look how it glows! (Trick of the light only, I assure you).

My bookshelf getting into the spirit

This week should be pretty quiet, too, but no complaints. My cozy, unconventional Christmas is kind of just right.

And you? What did you do? What are your plans? Still on holidays or back to work this week?

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14 Responses to “Unconventional Christmas”


  1. 1 renaissante December 26, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    OK, some of my favorite, most memorable Christmases ever have been the unconventional ones. Enjoy them when they come along. This year’s Christmas was, for me, utterly conventional, and, I have to say, though fun, not particularly memorable. Which is OK too. But you’ll never forget your falafely Christmas Eve.

  2. 3 Paris Paul December 27, 2011 at 2:13 am

    Karin and i celebrated with my kids and had regular contact with our families in the States. Karin made an incredible dinner for Christmas Eve and i hope t to post photos of that soon.

    Have a good one!

  3. 5 Jennyphoria December 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I love it. One of the best freedoms we have as expats is the ability to start our own (non)traditions. Glad to see your weekend was filled with food, friends and falafel.

    xoxo

  4. 7 lupinssupins December 27, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    I cheated & clicked on your link to Angelina’s before reading your post, and all those beautiful patisseries were making me hungry. So I appreciate your description of the Buche de Noel, because it reminded me that many of the fanciest French pastries are more beautiful than tasty! That said, I must say that my high school French teacher made/makes a Buche de Noel très délicieuse!

    My Christmas was small, with my 2 sons, my dad & me, plus the 2 cats [w/ the boys grown, had to have someone to buy toys for, if only to divert the cats’ attention from all the shinies on the tree!] It was also quiet, except for my occasional shouts of “Down!” to the new kitten perching cozily in the topmost branches of the tree! Poor little guy looked quite innocently scared at my stern persona, but the sight of him sitting up there was so comical that it was hard for me to maintain my “cover” & not laugh out loud. Still, I managed to get so tired out from baking cookies & rum cakes, yanking the strong clawed kitteh out of the tree, decluttering the apartment and trying to figure out what to get my kids who only shrug at “What do you want for Christmas?” that I began to envy my many facebook friends from high school doing their traditional Chinese food & a movie! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dukfZs3RGhw

    It’s another long story after this long comment, but one of my most memorable Christmases was during the graduate year abroad that I lived in Paris… but went to visit family in Iceland for Christmas! Since roomies & most classmates had flown the coop for les vacances and my home town was too far/expensive away, I was invited to experience an Icelandic Christmas, their 4 hours of daylight, mass at the U.S. airbase, and, just coincidentally, a record-setting snowfall!

    • 8 paris (im)perfect December 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      My family tradition used to include Chinese food and a movie, too :)

      The Icelandic Christmas sounds really memorable! Thanks for sharing your memories. Also, I’m jealous you have cats. Been wanting a kitty for awhile but I don’t think she’d be happy in my small Paris apartment.

  5. 9 Amy Thomas (@GodILoveParis) December 27, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Sounds pretty awesome, Sion! And not a Christmas you’ll ever forget! (If only for the chocolat chaud :) )

  6. 11 SAS Fiction Girl December 28, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Clever bottle tree!
    As for my Christmas, aside from the usual Christmas Eve Mass and Christmas Day gift exchange, I went to the movies. Typically, I’ll see a film on Xmas Day, but this year I went for the trifecta: 3 movies in three days. So, Saturday was “Sherlock Holmes”; Sunday was “War Horse”; and Monday was “Arthur Christmas”. All three are action-packed, so I was exhausted, despite sitting on my butt for so long.
    Joyeux Noel et bonne annee!

  7. 13 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) December 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Hi there! So Paul already commented on what we did… It was a good, solid, Christmas celebration.

    I have to say, though, I truly envy your unconventional Christmas!!! I had one last year and LOVED it. I have a tendency to feel overburdened by holiday celebrations, and really appreciate being able to deviate from the norm. It’s refreshing, it’s a welcome change, so welcome, I think I could stand a few years of unconventional. I might then get a craving for the conventional again… but in the past few years, I have appreciated unconventional more than the usual “thing.”

    One thing I am doing the same this year as last is having marathon TV-watching sessions. I finally got wind of the series “Downton Abbey” and watched the first two seasons this Christmas week, as well as the Christmas special that just aired this past weekend. Last year’s Brit Hit I watched was “The IT Crowd.” Another is that I started watching “Northern Exposure” last year at Christmastime. I stopped at about New Year’s last year though. I decided to start watching again in the past week, picking back up where I had left off (after watching a couple of previous favorites). I think I may have started a new tradition for myself: Brit Hits and “Northern Exposure.” :D In fact, I am going to cocoon in bed again with the laptop and some of “NX” Season 4 after commenting here. :)

    Happy Holidays, Sion, and thank you for sharing what you did this holiday. I am glad it was as unique and special as you are. :)
    xx
    Karin


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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