Sunday, December 23, 2007

Get ready

I really should be in bed, but I needed a few moments of "me" time after a day made crazy with holiday preparations. Plus, we're off to my husband's family's house in Troyes tomorrow as early as we can get organized and packed. Once we leave, I'll be five days without a computer. No blogging, no e-mail for five whole days. This will be tough.

So if you're curious to know just where I'll be in those long days of radio silence, imagine this: eleven adults, two five-month-old babies, and one small house built circa 1920 with three principal rooms, if you generously count the bedroom and attic. No couch, just a giant dining room table, the dignified centerpiece of any French household but slightly less comfortable for lazing around after a huge meal.

And huge meals there will be. We'll arrive with half of the family on the 23rd, and my husband's aunt will have prepared something "light" for lunch and dinner, maybe a pot au feu or a choucroute. Naturally, this will be followed by salad and she'll do her best to push a cheese course on us, as well.

On the 24th, the rest of the family will arrive. We'll eat an equally big meal at lunch because, well, everyone's finally reunited. But we all know enough to save room for what's next: Christmas Eve dinner consists of homemade mini-quiches, foie gras, turkey, potatoes, chestnuts, salad, the cheese platter of your dreams or nightmares, and a frozen chocolate bûche de noël dessert. (I'm always a bit disappointed by the bûche, which comes from a chain store, but my mother-in-law's foie gras is a tough act to follow.) All this is heavily irrigated by a thoughtful selection of wine, which I'll be avoiding this year since I'm still nursing.

We'll go to bed late, sleep as much as we can but for the indigestion, and then eat a very light breakfast. For shortly after noon is Christmas lunch: oysters or boudin blanc (or for the gourmands who are sneaky enough, both), a pièce de résistance that could be lamb, roast beef or duck, salad, the same deadly cheese platter, an architecturally stunning chocolate patisserie, and a plate of candied fruit.

We'll then spend the rest of the afternoon somnambulating about the house or, for the more motivated among us, around town. Troyes' half-timbered facades will be decked with Christmas lights twinkling in the frozen air, and no matter how cold it is, there will be other folks out walking off the calories with good cheer.

We'll go back home for dinner, but no one will pay much attention to what's on the table.

Oh, how happy I am to think that le Petit will be helping me burn off my overindulgence this year. Hooray for the holidays, hooray for le Petit's first Christmas!

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