Thursday, December 27, 2007

...and a Happy New Year

Ah, it's good to be home, though I've had my share of reverse culture shock moments. One completely unexpected revelation is that I am now more of a French driver and so have had a few harrowing moments in the parents' ginormous Oldsmobile. I completely forgot about being able to turn right at at red light (bonus!) and have to remind myself out loud that I go in front when making a left turn. It's the small things. Please don't tell my husband, but I also miss those terrible roundabout things and can see the logic behind the whole "priority to the right" notion.

One thing I do love about home is the whimsical road names. You don't really find those where we live in France -- they seem to be historically linked, which is helpful in a way since I still have lots to learn about the World Wars. On the other hand, I was still living in my hometown when they switched to the E-911 system (which was very helpful to those on the Rescue Squad since sometimes callers would give directions along the lines of "Look for a wooden mailbox just past where the old Spencer barn used to be before it burned down 8 years ago" -- I was actually present for those particular directions and can assure you I'm not exaggerating for effect, but I digress). Anyway, there was a whole road naming process where the people living on a road had to nominate and then vote on a name. I still haven't picked my favorite, but there are charming as well as historical names aplenty. One is called "Elephant Curve," apparently because there was once an accident when the circus was coming to town and the elephant wagon tipped over. There's the obvious "Needmore Road" which never fails to crack me up, and then "Hope Road," as in "Hope it eventually gets paved, dang it." I live about 45 minutes from everywhere, but at least I can entertain myself with road names while I drive.

I also attended church with my mother for the first time in ages, which was readily apparent once the minister said to turn to the Book of Such and Such, Chapter This, Verse That. There's nothing worse than sitting in one of the front pews literally in front of God and everybody, going completely blank as to where the Book of Matthew is approximately located (it's an easy one, too) and having to cheat off of your mother when it comes time to open your Bible and read along with the preacher. I thoroughly enjoyed the sermon, though, which was very much unusual for the Sunday Before Christmas -- the Christmas story seen from Joseph's point of view. I am pretty sure that is the first time I've heard the phrase 'sexual relations' used in church, but it was an effective message focusing on how to handle life's unexpected twists and turns.

Babbella is jabbering away and being spoilt rotten. She is crawling tentatively forward when we're able to find a tempting enough object and has shown a taste for yellow squash, which is something I can't often find back in France. My mother fed her gravy this morning (of my dad's famed biscuits and bacon-grease gravy) which I was less than thrilled about, but the kid seemed to like it.

I also learned that my husband and I need to discuss important things such as Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny in advance, especially before starting up the video camera. I'm now ruing (or is it rueing?) the day that DVDs were invented because you could at least rewind a videocassette and start again. Who knew that in France -- or at least my husband's family -- every single one of the presents came from Santa and not even one from the parents?

Me: ... and this one is from Daddy and me --

The Hub: (helpfully interrupting because he thought I made a mistake) Non, you mean Santa.

Me: NO, I mean from us.

The Hub, video camera in hand, shaking head: Non...

Me: (confused) Um, from me and Papa?

The Hub: Non, they're ALL from Santa.

Me: (ticked off) CUT! CUT! Back up, we need to start over! Dammit, husband, you haven't been paying attention!!

Yeah, yeah, I know, 8-month-olds aren't as into the whole Christmas thing as the mother is, but I carried and birthed her so just let me have my moments of joy before she becomes a teenager.

And I should mention that our big change does involve a new job and a move, although not as far away as it could have been. We had to choose between an interesting job in a new field close to Paris and a job in the automotive industry out in the mountains. I surprised myself by wanting to stay in Ile-de-France and giving up the possibility of a house with a yard near the mountains, mainly for Babbella's sake. I hope we made the right decision, but growing up does involve making choices based on one's family, I reckon. We'll see.


Samantha said...

Oohhh, that makes much more sense now. I couldn't figure out why my MIL kept saying that all of the presents for the kids were from Pere Noël. I was like "Um, no, that's from ME", and she just kept shushing me up.

And the kids were coming back the following day, so she told them "Santa didn't have enough room the first time around, so he's going to stop by again tonight and bring the rest of your presents" - I asked Fab why she couldn't just say the rest of the presents were from her, and he just shrugged and said he didn't know.

Betty C. said...

It sounds like you are settling into your French life well. I'm sorry I haven't commented more lately, but there are so many blogs to keep up with! Have a wonderful holiday...there's no place like home for them!

Riana Lagarde said...

yeh and santa left these presents for you at aunties house, damn santa, cant you just bring them ALL to my house? so weird!

welcome back!! i have to go get my french drivers license!!bahhhhh

KathyUSA said...

It was so wonderful to see you. Glad that you made it home safely!! I can't wait to hear more about your move n what it's like in your new home location. We didn't get a chance to talk about that very much. It's so easy to look back and say I wish I would have done my holiday's with the kids differently. I truly wish Santa brought ONE gift and the rest were from whoever - mom, dad, grandma, papa, etc. I feel so much pressure to make Christmas from Santa "wonderful" and "fulfilling" and don't forget - somewhat equal when you have more than one little monster. I always worry - did they get enough, were they happy?? In no time neither they nor I can even remember what all they got and my pockets are empty.
This week I started working with my 3.9 yr old to write her letters. She did super tonight! Since she hasn't been in pre-school I feel she is so behind. This year I promise to work with here more!
PS: Michelle - check my pictures on-line.