That time of the year has come, the days when you dig out storage the funky decorations that you string on the fragrant branches of a tree. In my case, due to moving back to the United States in 2011, I had none of the decorations that my French BFF Mimi had given me at Villa Verde. I also live in a compact room so whatever tree I got had to be an appropriate size to accommodate all of the stuff that has accumulated in the space of nearly four months.
One trip to the Foir'Fouille, land of cheap housewares, and I acquired 40 Euros' worth of Christmas decorations and a fake tree.
|It looks nice, doesn't it?|
Or at least I tried to. Due to the flimsy, collapsible stand and the weight of too many ornaments, the poor tree kept falling over.
With each slip and dip that occurred, my frustration gradually kicked up a notch. Then one of the stand's planks broke. I resorted to using a pink Hello Kitty CD case to keep it propped upright. I even gave my tree a nickname: Timber. As in "TIM-BERRRRRRRRR!!!!" *crash*
|Don't forget to notice the pink Hello Kitty stand.|
Let's take a look at the picture on the box again...
|LIES. ALL LIES.|
|This is clearly what a fake Christmas tree looks like when it has given up all hope.|
Deep in my gut, something told me that Timber simply wasn't going to cut it. I sadly removed all of the ornaments I had strung with care and dismantled Timber. Determined, I promised myself that I would get a real tree on Saturday.
Tree Decorating, Take 2
I walked over to my nearest Point Vert, the Villa Verde wannabe store filled with hunting gear and gardening supplies. Within minutes, I found my dream tree. Despite its cumbersome size for my tiny bedroom, it was the perfect tree. I purchased Chrissy (yes, that's its name) and a stand to keep it standing straight.
But once I returned home, I then had to deal with a second factor: my tiny bedroom.
|Once you have purchased a tree, playing Room Tetris is inevitable.|
Christmas Tree Decorating 101
1) Place all the Christmas/Fairy Lights first.
|Trust me on this one.|
2) To set the mood right, organize all of the ornaments.
|Looking at this hoard still makes me giddy.|
|I couldn't resist getting these horse ornaments. I consider it a tribute to my many Neigh-bors.|
|When I was younger, my mother had a bunch of basket ornaments. On Christmas day, I would discover that Santa had magically left some chocolates in them. I wanted to make sure that the Man in Red continues that tradition.|
|Yo dawg, I heard you like Christmas trees. So I put a Christmas tree in yo' Christmas tree.|
|These are actually wooden gift tags. They're ornaments now, okay?|
|Mine's Colombian hot chocolate.|
Now you are set to decorate.
|Make sure you have even spacing between branches for the ornaments. The tree shouldn't look too overcrowded.|
|If you have any garland/ribbon, add it after you've laced the tree with the decorations. Add the tree skirt last.|
|If you lack space, place the Nativity scene/Christmas village under the tree.|
|Chrissy makes me so happy that I don't even want any presents this year.|
|I really wasn't kidding about living in a compacted space.|
To make matters even more interesting about my compacted space, I shall have to factor in an inflatable bed within a week's time. Why so? I will have the pleasure to travelling to Paris to greet my mother at the Charles de Gaulle (CDG-Roissy) airport! It'll be the first time in nearly four months (I moved to Sablé-sur-Sarthe on August 23rd) since I have seen her. We've done a couple of Skype chats in between, but nothing compares to being able to hug her in person and give her a big kiss.
Back in October, when I was dreaming of having two weeks off to just relax and do absolutely nothing, no grading papers, no planning lessons, not having to wake up in the mornings, I received a phone call from my very matriarchal Colombian Mom.
Mom: Well, I was thinking...
Mom: About how I'm going to France to spend Christmas with you this year.
She hadn't asked a question. It was a statement. It was definitive. Whatever she says, goes.
I had to be a responsible adult. I kissed my two weeks of
I am a bit concerned for her, though. Ever since we moved from the frozen tundra of New Jersey twenty years ago to Miami, it might take her a while to become acclimated to experiencing proper winter weather once more.
I'm also scratching my head as to what we will do in the time she visits me. Paris at Christmas is a must, and I still have yet to see the Champs-Élysée lit at night. As for Christmas day, Mom and I will probably spend a few days with my dear friends who live in Sens to exchange presents and cook some Colombian cuisine. After that, I might take Mom to my very humble abode in Sablé so she can meet the horses. Maybe we will even get the chance to visit the surrounding cities of Angers and Le Mans to see their Christmas markets.
On a more serious note, my mother is quite nervous for this trip. It wouldn't have been so bad had I been able to find a cheap direct flight for her from Miami to Paris, but, due to financial destitution, we had to opt for her to make a stop in London's Heathrow airport (or is it aeroport?). Now, in all reality, having a layover in London isn't such a big deal.
However, when you are a Colombian lady who, thanks to Miami's Spanish-centered bilingualism, rarely speaks English and who has never set foot in the U.K., it suddenly is a frickin' big deal. She actually considered canceling the trip due to this inconvenience.
The following conversation happened to us in Spanish:
Mom: WHAT AM I GONNA DO?! Can I use Euros or Dollars in England?
Me: Um, no, I don't think so. The British use the Pound.
Mom: *Incredulous pause* Ayyyyyyy ¡¡¡¡Dios mio!!!! (Oh, my God!) Why can't these Europeans use the same currency everywhere?! It's so backwards of them!
Me: Oh, Mom...it's not a big problem.
*I looked at the flight schedule*
Listen, your flight arrives in London around lunchtime. You should exchange some Dollars to Pounds when you are still in Miami so you can have lunch in the Heathrow airport.
Mom: What am I going to eat there?
Me: I dunno...eat some Fish & Chips? Buy some Cadbury's Dairy Milk?
Mom: What's Cadbourri's Dari Milk?
Me: It's chocolate.
Mom: Ay, you know I don't like chocolate.
Me: Yeah, I know. It was a joke.
Mom coming to visit me plus a Christmas tree is enough of a gift for me!
Barb the French Bean