Merry Christmas and Joyeux Noël!

We survived the end of the world and we will hopefully survive the end of the year.

Devastating natural catastrophes and horrifying shootings have defined 2012 in the US.

Despite their dramatic and long-lasting consequences on too many people, the holiday lights and music, the parties with friends and family, and even the most outrageous decorations – today I saw countless cars with reindeers’ antlers and red noses – remind me of the unique American disposition for rituals and celebrations.

Whatever surprised me in 1990, when I landed in California two days before Christmas, is now part of my life.

Okay, I’m sure I will never get a pair of antlers and a red nose for my car, but holiday music from Sirius XM makes my commutes more festive.

I won’t wear a red sweatshirt with a Santa Claus embroidered on the front and I won’t pin a brooch imitating a candy cane on the lapel of my jacket, but now I hung socks in the staircase and a wreath at my front door.

I won’t eat ham but a goose on Christmas day. I will skip the French oysters but – hush don’t tell anyone – I will have foie gras on Christmas Eve.

In 1990, I unsuccessfully searched for chestnuts, which in my native country are traditionally cooked around the turkey or goose. Now Trader Joe’s imports them from Canada.

I still favor a Bûche de Noël to minced pies, fruitcakes and spice cookies, but anything with pumpkin won my tastebuds. Eggnog won’t ever replace my red wine, but I love s’mores around the firepit.

The Père Noël and Santa Claus are good friends in my home. One mails his gifts from France while the other one shops mostly online.

So from the bottom of my heart I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Joyeux Noël!


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