Friday, December 24, 2010

It was Christmas Eve babe...

To kick off my first Christmas vacation away from my family, I decided to ditch my boring old flight and take a roadtrip instead. My friend Sam and I took off on Friday evening and headed north, into the best bad weather France could conjure up for us. We were trying to make good time in order to catch the ferry from Dieppe to New Haven, so we were forced to take the toll heavy autoroutes instead of the scenic route. As Sam's car is a British model, I lounged out in the left hand seat, garnering many a strange look from passing cars. I think I proved myself to be an excellent wingwoman, opening bottle caps, passing food items, and scrolling down the window to pay the tolls. Though French weather tried to break our stride, we made it to Dieppe and the ferry. Luckily we were armed with a bottle of wine, which made the four hour boat trip across the channel a lot more fun.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dreams of Christmas Past

As promised, here is a post about Christmas traditions with my family - since it will be my first Christmas away from my family.

In Christmas' past, my father, who works for the Forest Service had a permit and we'd trek out into the Nat'l Forest to pick out our tree. The five of us would load into the truck with our hats and mittens and a thermos of hot cocoa, and once we found the perfect tree, Dad would take the saw to it and voila. These days, we pick out our tree pre-cut and cart it home. Our ceilings are ten feet, so our tree is always massive. In the days before any of us girls went off to college, we'd take one of the early weekends in December to decorate the tree. Each of us three have a hallmark ornament for each Christmas and we'd cover the tree in ornaments, lights, ribbons, and candy canes. The cats drink the water in the tree stand, they do love their pine water. We'd also take the weekend to bake cookies and breads while listening to Christmas carols. We hung up the stockings and wrapped garland around the house.

On Christmas Eve, we eat a big dinner. Usually we have salmon and shrimp, while my dad always has some oyster soup...blech. Then, we get ready for midnight mass (which is usually at 9/10pm) and afterwards, we drive around looking at Christmas decorations and lights around the the town.

Then we snuggled into bed and waited for Santa. In the morning, we snuck downstairs and saw the tree all lit up and in the dark morning, it cast the living room in a warm glow. Our stockings, crocheted by my grandmother, were laid in front of the tree filled with little goodies. When our parents came downstairs, we all got a pastry and cup of coffee or cocoa and settled around the tree to open the presents - one gift opened by each person at a time. When this was done, the cats would play with the wrapping paper and we would try out our gifts and play any CDs we had received.

We had another big meal in the afternoon with turkey and salads and such, and then would relax and do nothing for the rest of the day. It was magical. I'll really miss the traditions this Christmas, but I'll also be making new memories, and having new explorations.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I'm sitting in the teacher's computer lab on this chilly morning, taking advantage of the cheap coffee machine and free internet. I would normally be typing this on my laptop (with the english keyboard) in my apt, but well, there hasn't been any heat there for the past ten days. The building is also rather old, so there is no insulation in the walls, and that added to the broken furnace = it's like I'm living and sleeping outside. One of my teachers was kind enough to allow me to eat and sleep at her home three nights and I've spent other nights at friends' places. The FJT has also given me a temporary room in the main (and heated) building, so at least I have a warm place to sleep. On tuesday, they said that it would be finished and working on wednesday, and then yesterday afternoon they said it will be fixed today (thursday Dec 2nd). Le sigh.

I'm also cruising on into December and the end of the first semester teaching in France. I suppose some reflection is in order. I've gotten a bit into the swing of things, I've had a few really great lessons, a few terrible ones, and lots of mediocre ones. I teach the equivalent of 6th - 9th grades. Honestly, it hasn't been as difficult as I had imagined, luckily I'm something of a novelty and thus a special treat, so the behavior when I work with them reflects this. And for the first time in my life, I feel like an adult.

Technically, I've been an adult for the past four years, but there are times lately when I feel old. haha. I attribute a lot of those feelings to the fact that I'm working with children, children who are between eleven and seven years younger, but the gap seems so wide. One student died at the end of October, and though I had only seen her a few times, it was quite a shock, a horrible one at that. I started to understand that horror that adults feel when young people die. One of my teachers also shared a little about the backgrounds of some of my oldest students and I was shocked by some of the stories of terrible parenting. Granted, I don't even know if I want children, but I've developed some rather strong attitudes on the subject seeing students in class that are not having the childhoods they should be.

In this holiday season, I'm also starting to miss my own family rather acutely. It was my second Thanksgiving away from home, but it will be my first Christmas away. I think I'll devote my next post to memories of some Christmas traditions.

Hope all is well with everyone.