08 January 2012

Merry Christmas Emile

Yesterday, January 7th, Maïf asked if I had an official time to put away the Christmas decorations. I said "5 minutes ago." We're going to do it this afternoon, though we've agreed that our favorite elf transcends Christmas, and shall be ensconced in a suitable place of honor for the forseeable future.

This was our second Christmas here in our country cottage outside Neuchâtel. We got a beautiful blanket of snow a few days before, and the fields were soon dotted with deer tracks.

In town, on the apartment buildings we saw a Christmas decoration I'd never seen before coming to Switzerland: here and there a little stuffed Santa hanging from an apartment windowsill, apparently trying to break in. It sucks for Père Noël when there's no chimney.

Maïf's son, Daniel, joined us from Geneva on Christmas Eve. He and I had chosen a little spruce tree to harvest for our tree, but in the end we let it live, not because we got all tree-huggy, but because there was no room in our little living room unless we nailed the dining room table to the ceiling. Instead Maïf spread spruce greens and decorations around the house, and soon angels could be heard singing Jingle Bell Rock.

Christmas morning the three of us, like last year, tromped through the crunchy snow to our neighbors' home for their annual breakfast open house. Before we went I whimpered to MF that I hoped we wouldn't stay too long, because I'm always fearful about my poor French, and not being able to understand all the cross-talking. A couple hours later, she and Daniel had to drag me out of there.

I talked with our host Didier about metal-working, admiring his staircase hanging from metal rods. I asked his little boy Louis to show me his Christmas presents, which, believe it or not, were books and a finely crafted game that was essentially miniature foosball made with beautiful wood. Video games? What's that?

And sweetest of all, there was Emile, our newest neighbor. Emile doesn't have a lot to say, and he tends to nod off anywhere anytime as you might expect from a boy who's only 11 days old, but when he looks you in the eye, you get the message. And the message is this: Life. And Love.

So here's to you, sweet Emile. Welcome to your first Christmas, and thank you for reminding us all of the true meaning of Christmas. 

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