When you’re renting a furnished apartment you really don’t want to spend money on household items that aren’t a necessity. In our apartment we have one tablecloth and it’s dark brown. That’s mean it shows every possible crumb and when you’re tearing apart baguettes at each meal, that’s a lot of crumbs. So we use placemats most of the time. The apartment also came with some of those…four quilted placemats which I love but also require laundering (keep in mind no clothes dryer and you’ll see why this is not a popular choice on the table) and four hard cork-backed placemats (which we use all the time). But there are five in our family and not wanting to put money into placemats we purchased this great set of paper placemats that have these whimsical food photos that inspire you to add your own creation. There might be egg tic-tac-toe on one or a large potato for you to turn into a robot.
But the best part of these paper placemats is that we turn them over when we are nearing the end of our meal and play hangman. There is always a category and yesterday’s lunch category was Christmas songs.
Some are obvious just by looking at the number of words and letters. Elizabeth thought she might have us tricked with “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” but once you guess S and T it becomes fairly obvious. Plus, ironically, the song came on the play mix right as we were guessing her song.
I did have them stumped with “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” (no S, T or L).
Julian did a great job on his selection of “Christmas Time is Here” by Vince Guaraldi (A Charlie Brown Christmas). Although Christmastime should have been listed as one word, we knew what he was getting at. As each person figures it out, we’ll say, “I’ve got it”. We were down to Elizabeth who finally said, “Oh, I know it! Christmas Time is Hard.” I about fell off my chair. Tom, who will take any opportunity to change the lyrics of a song, immediately began the new rendition with Julian and Sarah laughing and singing along. It was priceless.
But it got better. Tom had a wonderful selection and stumped the kids. Most of you will figure it out:
G R E E N S _ E E _ E S
Finally, Sarah said, “Oh, Greenscreens”. I don’t know if we were just in a giggly mood, but I had one of those moments where you can’t swallow whatever is in your mouth for fear of choking and the tears are streaming down your cheeks because your husband is now creating a new Christmas song about greenscreens. And you know when someone else is laughing so hard they are almost blowing something out their nose, it’s hard for others not to laugh along? While we feel our kids have a very high familiarity with Christmas carols and hymns, obviously Greensleeves is not one of them.
I think what made this time so great was it was nestled into a day of family fun. It was Saturday, the first day of the Noel holiday, and we didn’t have one obligation on the calendar. Tom and I went for a long run (in the rain) and came back from our favorite market with croissants and sugar beignets, the kids slept in and then everyone splintered off to do some last minute shopping (which, when you live so near so many things, is just a quick run up the street so all were successful!). After a late humorous lunch, we walked to the Grand Palais to meet another family for some indoor ice skating. It was beautiful inside, especially as twilight hit, although the ice was a bit wet so it was no fun if you took a tumble. Strolled along the Champs-Elysee and avenue Montaigne (considered la grande dame of French streets for high fashion) on our way home. We capped our day with requested tomato tart for dinner, Chocolate Cream Roll for dessert (think gigantic Swiss Cake Roll), and the annual Engle Sleep-under-the-tree night (of which all are still snoozing while I type this by the light of the tree and the laptop).
I tricked you with that “Christmastime is hard” heading, didn’t I? To be honest, the holidays have brought out the largest amount of “You know what I miss?” conversations we have had in a long time because the holidays are really about traditions and when you miss some of those, it leaves a bit of an empty spot. But we are creating new traditions and new holiday experiences, some of which may join the old favorites when we return.
Like Christmas hangman.