Today let us contemplate the infamous Christmas Letter. That purveyor of the humblebrag, or perhaps the lengthy and sleep-inducing tome from a distant cousin. We love them, we hate them, we send them anyway.
This week I was sipping a glass of wine with Nicole and I asked her if the French typically send Christmas letters, as the Americans do. She made a face. “Bah oui, je les deteste!”, she said. “I don’t want a five page letter from someone I barely know, telling me all about their children’s piano lessons.”
I had a good laugh at this. Some things are just universal.
Confession: I send a Christmas letter to close friends, but I endeavor to keep it short, creative, and interesting. I might send one in the form of a song or a poem or a puzzle; this year it will be a quiz. I’ve decided to share with you the one I sent last year.
Last year we decided to let our cat, Domino, write the Christmas letter. A little background for those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting him: he is a rescue cat with feral roots who nevertheless considers himself to be of royal origins. He alternates between extravagant affection and worrisome aggression when crossed. His marked territory includes the entire village. He breakfasts/dines/naps with so many village families that we are not entirely sure we are his main proprietors. He has no fear of dogs, large or small; loud noises do not faze him. He walks at a single, slow speed, with a swagger that has caused one neighbor to dub him “John Wayne”. In the South we would call him sassy, here we would say coquin. (Photo above: the auteur, getting ready to celebrate Christmas). Here is what Domino had to say in his Christmas letter:
Well it’s March at the moment and those two abusive, useless staff of mine are finally back from wherever they spend the nasty month of February, somewhere down on the coast. Not that it bothers me much. I’ve got another French family: my maison secondaire with my own chair by the fire, and of course I breakfast with the other French neighbors and have apperos with the Dutch ones, where I also have a personal nest and my own special treats. But still, leaving me was so wrong.
It’s June now and some noisy women are visiting. They laugh and carry on then go off to Provence to shop and travel. They abandoned me for a week but at least my Man is still around. It’s been a nice quiet week, and—-no wait, they’re back! Geez, and I hear there are other intruders lined up to visit. It's going to be a long summer.
Already the summer has been too crazy around here, with the neighbors dropping by constantly. The women are fluffing up each other’s houses with flea market junk, the guys are building furniture and stuff, always a commotion. The neighbors are alright though. When I go over chez eux, they give me chicken.
Now It’s August and there’s all sorts of talk about some château, where my staff used to live, being sold. Of course I never got to live there, that other cat did. They’re always going over there for parties and French lessons. (Hah! They should be truly bi-lingual, like me). Everyone seems sad about it. No skin off my pink nose.
It's late November now, and I see the suitcases coming out again. I’ve attacked the staff viciously a couple of times to let them know I don’t like it, but they seem determined. Well, tant pis, let them go. They’ll be visiting some other country for Christmas. I’ll just stick around here, where they know how to make a good paté, and the cheese is better.
Well, gotta go. It’s December, it’s frickin’ snowing here, but my staff are off on some tropical island with the whole family, leaving me to fend for myself for Christmas. Of course there WILL be foie gras, but still.
Merry Christmas or whatever,
And with that, my best wishes for a joyeux Noel and a very bonne année, to you and yours!
In the COMMENTS: Iris, Libby, and Julie, you are so right about Picard! That's why the clever French woman in my story could (almost) get away with it. There is really nothing in the states to compare it to. Ann, enjoy Paris!