It’s been drizzling snow all day here…that is to say, snow flurrying (if only my growing incapacity to speak English indicated a perfect fluency in French). This combined with my sleepless nights of buzzing anticipation for my trip to Egypt, all too reminiscent of the Christmas Eve jitters, has put me in the holiday spirit. Unfortunately, Paris as a city reeks of holiday blues.
Whereas I’m doing snow dances for Snow-pocolypse, The Sequel, the French could not look more disgusted with the flurries. The distilled looks of anger on their faces; their bent postures leaning into the ‘driving’ flakes; the disgruntled mutterings of, “This time last year…ten degrees warmer…” really puts a dent in the Christmas cheer.
I visited the Netherlands two weekends past and found myself bicycling around (yes, bicycling—making progress on the psychological front [see the previous blog post]) a wonderland of sparkling decorations. The Dutch evidently celebrate Christmas on December 5, so I caught the townsfolk nearly on the Eve of gift-giving, family receiving and feasting—in other words, at the apex of spirited, convivial anticipation. Perhaps it was unfair of me to expect as much of Paris, particularly given the Dutch tradition of premature celebrations… (Yet…in all honesty I am used to a full month of Christmas spirit between Thanksgiving weekend and New Year's Day) At any rate, my soaring hopes for enticing store displays and quaint twinkling lights have been sourly let down. I will say I can’t help but appreciate French frankness:
|No commercial gimmicks here! What you see is what you get: |
a street for your spending (-and-regretting-come-bill-paying-time) pleasure
...but really…what is Christmas without Santa’s black-face elves, relics of colonial era racism:
|This is not a scam: white Dutchman painted as black-servant-elves|
circa Maastricht, Netherlands 2010
Anyway, this is a warning, for those visiting Paris in the next month or so: pack warm clothes, a change purse full of coins, and a song of prayer to send out for the winos in the tunnels.