Happy Holidays?

Forum des Halles Christmas Lights

Christmas decorations at the Forum des Halles Shopping Center in the 1st arr. Paris

The past few years I have felt decidedly more Grinch-y (like he was before his heart grew three sizes too big) about Christmas than Cindy Lou Who-ish, or Scrooge, Post-Ghosts.

The way I see it, Christmas in the States from the time that I was a kid in the 1970s, has become “Cashmas,” which Urbandictionary.com defines as:

a celebration of materialism in which its celebrants attempt to flatter or impress relatives, friends, and acquaintances with the extent of their purchasing power. (The “power to get”.) Cashmas co-opts signs, symbols, and sympathies from other religious holidays of the winter season to mask its foundation of conspicuous consumption.

Maybe for some there is still either a genuine religious component which makes the season more for them, or they have an authentic love for All Things Christmas from the decorations to the foods to the ambiance that is created by such a warm and cozy holiday amidst the darkest days of the year. For me?

Christmas has felt like one big pain in the ass for a lot of years now.

The stress of buying gifts for family and friends, sending out a bajillion cards to those I have only been in touch with once a year, the baking and food preparation,  the having to travel and then divide time between family members, all of whom want to gather within days of the Day — somehow in the economy of exchange** of all these things to do, Christmas became not worth all the stress to me.

(** I made up the expression “economy of exchange” this past year for use in my discussions about life with myself and others. Yes, I talk to myself, lol. So do you, if you admit it! Anyway, the “economy of exchange” became a way for me to discuss what is sometimes called the “cost to benefit ratio,” but not so much having to do with actual financial implications. Instead, the “economy of exchange” is what we receive in return for our actions. It has to do with a kind of karmic reaping and sowing. For example, a few months ago I [pretty much] gave up drinking alcohol because the pleasure I derived from it was not as great as the mental, physical, and social price for drinking, especially with drinking too much. In other words, drinking became not worth it. This is what I call the “economy of exchange” in my life: the system in which there is give and take, cause and effect, action and transaction, and the “weighing in” as to the personal worth of the things exchanged.)

Not even having kids helped very much in enjoying the season more, unfortunately. Having kids, instead of renewing my own childlike sense of the holiday, seemed to pile on more guilt because I felt incapable of making the season even *more* magical for them. It seemed in recent years to be such a struggle to drag the decorations out for yet another year, and worry about whether there was enough money to buy presents. Sure, there was a way in which trying to give them a good Christmas helped. I would have to be a cold-hearted beast to not be warmed by the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. Of course the joy in their eyes at presents and candy was fun to see and experience. But, again, in the economy of exchange, the happiness they felt was at the price of a lot of weariness and stress on my part, and their joy could not bear up the entire weight of my feeling worn out by the whole thing.

I have come to realize this past year that a lot of the exhaustion, a lot of the stress and anxiety I have felt over this time of year, very well could have been because of what I think is my struggle with undiagnosed Celiac Disease.  I currently refer to what’s going on with me as “gluten intolerance” because I’m wishy-washy about actually saying I have the auto-immune disorder. I have never had a professional medical evaluation concerning this, and it is likely I will not in the near future. I know that I have experienced some relief of a lot of symptoms by not eating gluten, sugar, yeast, and dairy products for the past several months. I am not 100% better, however, in part because of other, hopefully temporary, food intolerances to things like tomatoes and potatoes, corn and strawberries, which makes eating very difficult for me right now. This is something that can happen when you have an immune system that is in a bit of an uproar because food molecules, instead of passing through the digestive system effectively, wind up in the bloodstream where immune action then views the molecules as an enemy. My explanations here are very simple, and if you want more in-depth reading about this, I can recommend the book Food Allergies and Food Intolerance by Dr. Johnathan Brostoff and Linda Gamlin.

At any rate, amongst the many possible symptoms of Celiac Disease is depression and/or anxiety. Food can be a *huge* influence on mood, I have learned in my research this past year.

I think I have simply been too exhausted and grouchy to enjoy very much of the holidays because they have taxed me so very much when my nutritional resources have been so low and my food reactions have been so high. This combination alone makes the day-to-day putting one foot in front of the other exhausting. Holidays? They are like running sprints with shin splints for days on end. What’s left after the years of feeling too stressed out to cope is a distaste for and dislike of the whole holiday enterprise. I have felt like I have been on the carnival ride called “Christmas” for so many years now, and feeling more and more sick being on that ride, that I have just wanted to scream “Let me off!!” and move back to somewhere in Asia where it really is just another day (although that has been changing in recent years, too. Check out the YouTube video in that article. It’s pretty funny).

So. It’s December 21. I am sitting in an apartment with no decorations up, with no tree (yet. PJ and are are supposed to get one tonight). I have done a little bit of Christmas shopping, thanks to my friend Priscilla, whom I met with last Tuesday at the Forum de Halles, and some small things for my kids in Colorado were purchased online and sent off to their homes a couple of weeks ago. PJ is pretty much in the same boat as I am concerning this holiday: he finds it as tiresome as I do and so neither of us is really in the mood to do anything extraordinary. Still, he has kids, ages 12-and-a-half and 15, and while they have long stopped believing in Santa, they are still kids enough to want stuff and have a bit of a party. Christmas has always been something they do with their dad as their mom’s side of the family is Jewish. Hannukah is not as big a deal for Jews in France as it is for a lot of Jews in the States, who are competing with Cashmas, too. So, there is some obligation to fake it and make a bit of a show of putting on a holiday.

I decided to get online and post today as it is likely that I won’t be online as much in coming days. PJ’s kids arrive tomorrow night, and will be here for about a week. What this means is that today I have to get the house readied for them, and have the grocery shopping done for meals for PJ and the kids over the next few days, as well as for the stuff I can eat. Then, they will be jonesing for Facebook time and PJ will be doing his writing as well. Buh-bye blogging for a few days, most likely. I may be able to get into the lineup of jockeying for computer time to post my thoughts on Versailles. I am *still* writing that post in my head! I finally did post the photos on Flickr into this set, though. They are not annotated yet, so while they are pretty to look at, there are no explanations as to what’s what. You’re welcome to look, however!

It has also fallen into my purview to wrap gifts from PJ’s family in the States, which arrived today, and the list of tasks seems to be growing as I think about them.

I wish I could feel happier about having a Christmas in Paris. I feel a little guilty because Christmas in Paris is lifelong dream for some, and here I am borderline-whining about it. Maybe if I were staying in a three or four-star hotel, and as a tourist appreciating the magic of the city in a compact time frame and from the center of things, I might be happier to experience Christmas in Paris, too! As it is, I am in the 19th arrondissement, in the ‘hood, living in a two bedroom apartment which is about to occupy four people (the older boy sleeps in the living room. The living room pretty much gets commandeered by kids while they are here as around the TV and computer and boy’s bed-slash-sofa is where they like to hang), and where food intolerance cramps my style so much in the land of breads, pastries, cheese, and chocolate that I really feel deprived and angry some days.

David Lebovitz's Stollen © David Lebovitz, 2009

For example, a couple of days ago, David Lebovitz posted this beautiful picture of and recipe for a Christmas Stollen, one of the holiday treats I really have enjoyed through the years. Stollen made the holidays seem not so stale and made me not so sullen! When I read the recipe, I lost it. I cried, mourning one of the few things about Christmas I actually still have liked up to now: the food.

In fact, revisiting David’s post and copying that link into my post just now made me cry again.

I realize I have had a bit of a case of sour grapes concerning the whole holiday “thing.” I think what has happened to me is a deep case of disillusionment with the holiday scenario. There never will be those Christmases past where all seemed magical. Somewhere in the space of growing up, I got a peek behind the curtain, at the cogs in the works. It probably started with the time when I found out Santa was not real, back when I was five or six. From there, my ability to suspend my disbelief at the realities around me during the holidays has been less and less successful as the years pass. That, and just the sheer pressure that the holidays seem to be anymore proves to be just too much. This year, with not eating any foods relating to holiday cheer, I feel myself giving up on even really putting on any pretense of wanting to like the holidays. There just is not much left to enjoy.

So pardon me while I whine on this blog. Forgive me for not holding more gratitude for things such as simply being grateful for being able to walk, or for living in one of the most pretty cities in the world. I’m sorry if I am such a downer. I’d like to be able to try to find something that can commend this holiday, but cannot. Sorry, Jesus People, I can’t go with the whole “Jesus is the reason for the season” schitck anymore. No offense to my believing readers out there. It’s just that factually and historically, Jesus Christ the actual man was probably a Virgo, born in September (a good explanation is here: Jesus’ Real Birthday. Long, but an interesting analysis, if conservative in its bent). Christians appropriated the pagan Winter Solstice celebrations and the Roman holiday of Saturnalia in an attempt (successful!) to co-opt these popular holidays. Christmas is really just a lot of made-up stuff that has its roots in pagan celebration.

Instead of putting back the “Christ in Christmas,” I would really like to be able to put the fun back into it. But all I can really see is that it is an excuse to spend more than we have, eat and drink more than we can handle, and stress ourselves out to achieve these two goals. If I could feel a sense of joy and fun with it again, I think I could have a little holiday spirit once more.

Meh. Grinchy. Told ya.

Maybe the Christmas fairies will visit me this year and help me change my mind. Maybe ghosts will come to visit me in the dead of night and knock some holiday sense and sensibility into my noggin. I dunno. I doubt it. In fact, I got online today to read about the sad and early demise of actress Britney Murphy, and I cried a little just as I did when I saw that Stollen, except her death is way sadder. It is this kind of specter I feel shadowing the entirety of the holiday this year.

To wrap this up, if I have not made you feel too much like dressing all in black, listening to the Sisters of Mercy, chain smoking in Denny’s, and cutting, then maybe you can share your true feelings about the holiday, too. Don’t worry: if Christmas is a holiday you love and you cannot understand my thoughts here, then write about what you love about it! Maybe you will inspire me! If you are with me in wishing the whole thing would just go away, then share your like-minded thoughts. If you, too, have a lot of food intolerances, and have formerly loved food at the holidays but cannot eat much holiday fare now, maybe you can share how you have coped with not eating all the goodies that represent this holiday. Please leave a comment about how *you* feel this holiday and why you do. “Blomment” (blog in my comments) all over the place!

In any case, I really do hope that the holidays, that Christmas and New Year’s, and the completion of Hanukkah this past week, are what you would want them to be. If you are happy at and with this time of year, then I wish you *every* happiness that you could hope for! If you are Grinchy like me, then here is to our getting through it all, and, maybe as in my case, without food or alcohol to make it slide down easier. Let’s hope we survive.

And to those, like Britney Murphy’s family and friends, who have lost loved ones this year, may you just be able to stumble through this time as best you can. My thoughts are with you.

Over and out.


(an alien parisienne)

Categories: Celiac Disease /Gluten Intolerance, Cross-Cultural Living, Food Intolerances, Life in Paris, Personal Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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21 thoughts on “Happy Holidays?

  1. Christmas can be really tough. Most of the time I think all the glitter is just media hype and veneer. There’s just too much stress at the holiday time.

    I know that for myself, I feel sad about not being back in my hometown with my friends at this time of year. I miss them. I miss the snow. Heck, I even miss my crazy, dysfunctional family. I’m really not feeling the spirit either. Last time I was happy about Christmas was during the move from LA to ABQ, when I decided to take a last minute detour to San Francisco. The kids and I stopped in San Simeon to see the elephant seals which had come there to breed, in Monterey Bay to go to the famous aquarium, and ended up in San Fran with my daughter and son-in-law having dinner in Chinatown on Christmas day.

    I’m with you. I really need to get the FUN back in Christmas.


    Maybe next year.

    • pariskarin

      “Last time I was happy about Christmas was during the move from LA to ABQ, when I decided to take a last minute detour to San Francisco. The kids and I stopped in San Simeon to see the elephant seals which had come there to breed, in Monterey Bay to go to the famous aquarium, and ended up in San Fran with my daughter and son-in-law having dinner in Chinatown on Christmas day.”

      That sounds like a very memorable one, indeed!!

      Before I remembered to approve your comment (whoops! I was here, wondering where it went as I started replies to the other folks that visited, lol), I responded to Ken that perhaps part of my “problem” is that I am not a traditionalist. I like things to be different, and serendipitous, just like you write about the SF stop with elephant seals and Chinatown. Oh that is brilliant stuff! I keep thinking that perhaps for some of us, serendipity is the key to the fun at Christmas. Hmmmmm, something to think about. How to invite serendipity in?

      Good question.

      As for the rest, thanks for the empathy, Kate. I’m glad to know there are others out there for whom the holidays are a very complex time.

  2. Ken

    I think there is a continuing backlash/undercurrent against this commercialism than is on many levels, from people complaining about the soul having been ripped from the season to anti-commercialism movements like “Buy Nothing Day”. I don’t mind the commercialism, but have a pesonal prefference/opinion of it (as I expressed on Dianna à la croisée’s copy of one or the christmas meme’s going around; “See, I heard “it’s the thought that counts” so much that I tried to have gifts that showed though and that is tiered; a gift (perfume, gloves, tie) = I thought enough to give you something; a personalised gift (favorite band cd, wanted game, something for your hobbie) = I thought of you while shopping; Something hand made = you are someone special enough that I made this just for you. My ex-gf thought that I was cheap when I gave her homemade jewelry with some of her favorite colors/stones/symbols instead of going into debt with professional jewelry.” ) and she confirmed in describing tree decorating ( “Favorite ornament theme or color? Things made, not bought. And I love themes. One year, Bruce and I cut snowflakes out of color paper and hung them on the tree instead of ornaments. It looked pretty cool. “)

    I know an answer is still a long way off, but I posted an article about a new direction being taken in the tratment of Celiac that might be hopeful. Maybe by the time you are comfortable getting tested there mey be a real treatment for this. What is amazing in my diet is how addicted I can become to things I know are harmful to me and when I stop, my body begs for the very things that cause it so much grief (or is it all in my mind?) I am also amazed about how politisized food information is. There was information that the bovine proteans in cow milk could actually steal calcium from human bones, which is completely contadicted in other reports and countered that soy can either be harful or helpful depending on who paid for the study.

    Seriously though, instead of trying to “put on” christmas for the family, the whole family should participate in Christmas and it should be a time of feelings and reflection instead of materialism and “wow”. Each person gets something for at least one other instead of for everybody and that thing is a personalised/useful item instead of the newest marvel. The tree and decorations is a group activity with everyone not only putting them together but discutions of the meaning and/or story behind each decoration (A nativity, minorah, star/angel, ornaments, etc). Preparing the meal and all of the other holiday tappings should be a time of family bonding instead of a chore for those “putting on” the holiday for the benefit of others. Holidays should spend as much time around photo albums and pianos as they should around the tv sets. This way the ‘magic’ of christmas is not dirived from the christmas trappings but from the spirit of fellowship and family. No pressure, just enjoyment.

    I’m sorry you won’t be on-line much as I wanted to do some back and forth around things both you and I had posted and I am planning a couple more posts, but we can get to that next year if need be. enough selfish whinning from me.

    From a christian perspective, the actual date of JC’s birth wasn’t as important as the signifigance of the event. Since I see all faiths as sacred, I could see including parts of many celebrations and traditions into my own (Hannukah, Ramadan, Diwali, Kwanza, Pagan, etc), but again the joy is in the simple with deep meaning. The whole point I’m trying to make is that we (all of us as a society) must get ou heads out of this minds set that has been drilled into us by Madison Avenue and enjoy simplisity, fun and fellowship/family. I have long ago stopped participating in that kind of thing. My most memorable Thanksgiving was not spend in the “traditional” way, but with some good friends deep in a cave/lava tube in a remote park.

    • pariskarin

      Thank you for the blomment, Ken!

      I need and want to catch up on your posts. I saw the Christmas meme going around on Multiply, but confess I was feeling so not in a a holiday spirit that I did not want to read any, lol. But it might be good for me to check it out.

      Also, I will find your link about Celiac. Thank you for letting me know.

      “Seriously though, instead of trying to “put on” christmas for the family, the whole family should participate in Christmas and it should be a time of feelings and reflection instead of materialism and “wow”.” You make a really good point here, and this sounds like a good goal to reach for!

      I love the idea of your most memorable Thanksgiving! I think my most memorable Christmas long ago was similar: my parents and sister were staying at a lodge in the mountains, where we thought there was to be some kind of a Christmas dinner put on. There was not, and we wound up eating pizza for Christmas! I think my parents were probably stressed out, but for me it was so very fun to have something be *different.*

      Maybe that is part of the issue here: I am not a “traditionalist.” I like things to be different and original, and sometimes Christmas is a lot of “rehashing” of the former. To me it seems that way. I know there are people for whom the traditions are the most important thing!

      Oh, *sigh*. Maybe the spirit will come back next year.

      Thank you for your careful reading and your input, Ken.

    • pariskarin

      I forgot to say something about this: “What is amazing in my diet is how addicted I can become to things I know are harmful to me and when I stop, my body begs for the very things that cause it so much grief (or is it all in my mind?)” NOT in your mind, at all!! In fact, a great clue to knowing what foods one is intolerant to are the quetions, “What foods do you incorporate into every meal and feel like you cannot possibly live without?”

      Science does not completely understand why this is so, and performing studies on why it is so are really pretty much impossibly complicated, but anecdotal evidence shows that this is a really widespread phenomenon with food intolerances. It probably has to do with brain chemistry and how the immune system responds and how food molecules bind to receptors in the brain. Foods can act as kinds of drugs in this sense.

  3. PJ

    Oooh, babe, now you’ve got me feeling guilty!

    • pariskarin

      Ooohhhh, babe! I did not intend for you to feel so by this post!

      (For the audience-at-large out there: Mr. Peej and I have already had a little bit of a chance to debrief this blog and what my intentions were in writing it [catharsis about my own feelings of guilt at not loving Christmas] and why he should *not* feel guilty about anything I have written! If it came across in any way that I have made it sound like PJ and his kids are a burden, I have not intended it to be so. Having written that, those of you who have been step-parents probably know how tricky it is to integrate into an already established family unit. My policy has been to not rock the boat — I am the “outsider” coming into a family ready-made and I feel that it is important for them to carry on in the way to which they are accustomed. Those of you who have been in this sitch probably know what this is like.

      PJ’s mom asked me to handle their Christmas stuff, and I promised I would because I am good about stuff like that, yanno?

      The rest is my own guilt at feeling like I am not doing Christmas adequately for his kiddos, much less mine (I am not even with my kids).

      Ahhhh, see a theme here? This has got to be the most guilt-inspiring holiday EVAH, and I think this is what gets to me the most about it….)

  4. Carole

    I’m with Ken regarding the family activities, whether decorating or cooking/baking. Engage the kids, talk to them, read The Night Before Christmas together on the 24th, form a gift wrapping assembly line: one can box the item, one wrap, one tape, one add ribbons and bows. Create hand print wrapping paper. The youngsters should use their favorite color of paint. Play board or card games. Have each family member write or say aloud his/her wishes for the new year and each other. Why don’t you list the things that would contribute to your ideal Christmas and see how many of them you can incorporate into this year. Above all keep it fun. Try not to stress. You are building memories for yourself and most importantly the kids that will last a lifetime. Make them good ones. Good grief, that damn song Cat’s In The Cradle is going through my head now! That can’t be good. 🙂
    Enjoy your Christmas in Paris. Yes, I am one of those who wish I were there.

    • pariskarin

      “Good grief, that damn song Cat’s In The Cradle is going through my head now! That can’t be good.” Hahaha! 🙂

      Oh, that song is a good one…

      You have some excellent ideas about how to put the fun back into things, Carole! Thank you so much for your input!

      And you enjoy your Christmas, too. I hope someday you can have your dream to be here in Paris for a Christmas. 🙂

      • Carole

        I am always on the lookout for fun, Karin! I need some of that myself so my comment was as much a reminder for me as you.

        Merry Christmas to you, your family and readers.

  5. Pocketful of Shells

    Hmmm, I loved December in Paris, because of all the decorations everywhere!

    As for the cash… it does suck that you buy crap for people who turn around and exchange it for stuff they like. I have in the past few years taken to making personalized gifts. Cheaper, harder, but I think, more worth it.

    It helps that Cri still believes in Santa and Goodwill towards Man (and Woman.)

    • pariskarin

      Oh true, true, Shel. I do have to say the Christmas decorations have been a lot of fun this year, and I have gotten to experience them even more so, it feels, this year! Lots of points to Paris for being even prettier at the holidays with all the lights and so on.

      And kudos to you, Wonder Woman, for making personalized gifts! Hats off to you for that, and mucho respect.

      I think your little Cri would inspire even the Grinchiest Grinch to grow that heart, for sure. He is a joy, that kiddo. While I have not met him in person, in the things you have written about him over the years, he oozes personality and spirit, including the Christmas one. Everyone should have a Cri at Christmas. He is like your own personal Cindy Lou-Who or Tiny Tim! 😀

  6. Usually I try to get out of France during the holidays. It does really pack an emotional punch. This year family is here and I’m not having my usual blue feelings. I hope they are gone for good.

    • Christmas got a little better as I had a special surprise that day (more on that later). I was thinking that it seems no matter what, Christmas often has something touching happen that melts the Grinchiness, and this year, thankfully, it happened again. 🙂 I am so glad that this year was a better one for you! It’s not a bad idea to get out of town, no matter where one is, I think. Just a simple change of locale can bring about a fresh attitude. I vote for Tahiti next year, lol. 🙂 Thanks for coming by to read and comment, Linda!

  7. Hey there, Karin! You asked for a blomment, so I guess you got one…

    My side of the family has started a tradition of celebrating the Solstice, in order to go back to the pagan roots of the season and also, to spread out family parties a bit. I’m sure you know that the Solstice, like the new moon, is basically a time for celebrating the darkness and the stillness. Basically, the time for letting go of the past and of turning inward for guidance. If you think about the ancient meaning of this time of year compared to what is actually expected at Christmastime these days, it’s no wonder you can’t get into the swing of things. Sometimes I feel that all this Christmas rushing around is just people’s subconscious way of avoiding this natural time of turning inward. Most people are afraid to do so.

    And my favorite things about Christmas (when I do it right, that is) is the presents for my loved ones, usually homemade. My mom used to be a prayer practitioner for a Science of Mind church (if you’re unfamiliar with this, it is NOT scientology, I assure you). Anyway, they talked a lot about how all of us have Christ-consciousness, which is similar to Buddha-nature and is the idea that all of us already are as perfect and wonderful as these two teachers and we only need to wake up to this fact. And so giving presents is akin to saying, “I see the light in you. You are perfect and deserving just as you are.” I remember standing outside of Joey’s Kindergarten classroom, listening to the parents talk about how they can only control their kids at Christmas time through the threat of Santa. And I told them how I had explained to Joey that Santa could see all her wonderfulness inside and that no matter how she behaved on the outside, she was beautiful and deserving on the inside. And that, to me, is the meaning of the season. Accepting and loving who we all are, even in, hell, especially in, the darkest times.

    If you’re ever looking for inspiration for how to celebrate a more family-centered and deeper Christmas tradition (and as Ken said, one in which all members of the family work together to create), I suggest heading over to SouleMama.com. Granted, she has 4 little ones, all them younger than my youngest, so life there is constant and hectic, but she doees a good job of reminding us about the deeper meaning behind our actions.

    • Wendy! Thank you so very much for this blomment. 🙂 I love what you had to write here: “Basically, the time for letting go of the past and of turning inward for guidance. If you think about the ancient meaning of this time of year compared to what is actually expected at Christmastime these days, it’s no wonder you can’t get into the swing of things. Sometimes I feel that all this Christmas rushing around is just people’s subconscious way of avoiding this natural time of turning inward. Most people are afraid to do so.”

      That makes a *lot* of sense to me for I do feel my natural inclination is to want to be very quiet and reflective, turning inwards, especially at this time of year. It really does run contrary to what people expect at Christmas with the rushing and being social. I really like this perspective! Thank you for the insight.

      My best friend’s mom is a minister in the Science of Mind, and I am familiar with treatments, and have looked at some of Earnest Holmes’ works. It was really cool to see you write about this for it connected with me and this part, too: “And so giving presents is akin to saying, “I see the light in you. You are perfect and deserving just as you are.””
      That is really beautiful! Thank you for the reminder of this as well as the perspective here, too.

      I will check out the SouleMama site and maybe for next year I can find my groove with the holidays. I have to say, though, the Christmas Spirit did come through on its own with a special event, about which I hope to blog *today* a little later!

      Thank you so much, Wendy!

  8. I was just reading your long post and then the long comments, when I saw that you commented on my blog … so we met somewhere on the lines!

    First I would like to thank you for your very nice comments on my previous post, I really felt flattered! Yes, it was really nice to meet you, to meet an American – Parisian blogger, well different from the average profile! You are obviously experiencing Paris differently, maybe in a more true way, but maybe also missing some of the positive “details”.

    When it comes to your view on Christmas or Cashmas, I would of course agree on a lot of your thoughts, but once again, I would hope that you would also try to see and better appreciate some of the positive sides. Now, in your case, your family situation and the “diet complications” must of course have an influence on your judgment. I’m afraid that the task to bring back the real Christmas traditions, if they at all exisit (as they have been created not so long ago in, as you say, a mixture of pagan and religious traditions with commercial addendums) may be an impossible task. I believe we just have to accept them and try to do the best of it. We can also all create our own version of these traditions, maybe a way to better appreciate them (?).

    You wrote this December 21. How do you feel about it all today, once it’s over?

    In any case, it was a true pleasure to meet you and I hope we can make some more Paris walks togehter, hopefully in warmer weather. Maybe I can help you to find some of the efinitely positive sides of Paris?

    Take care and a Happy New Paris Year!

    • Peter – thank you so much for coming by and reading, and yes, I did just visit your post a little earlier today!

      I softly laughed to myself about myself in your comment, for yes, it is true that I really could use a good dose of the glass seeming to be half full instead of half empty. 🙂 I do struggle a lot with finding the positive in things at times. Most times, maybe? LOL.

      I have indeed changed since this post. As you were commenting, I was busy creating a new post with the news that Paul and I are engaged. 🙂 This helped the holiday a lot as it happened on Christmas Day. Also, I have been thinking so much about Versailles and how incredible my visit was there, and my friend Tess and I also caught one of the last days of the Renoir exhibit at the Grand Palais this past Saturday and I was most impressed with the life of Renoir past the age of 50. He created what was probably the most important work of his life as a painter after that time. This helped me to see that there are a lot of possibilities in life. Renoir was quite debilitated by arthritis in his later years as a painter, and yet he continued to learn and grow as a painter. It was an amazing visit. I felt very fortunate to be in a city with such a wealth of art and history from those two events.

      I would love all the help I can get to find the joys in Paris! As Paul and I have talked, my former “normal” in life is no more (re: food and so on); I now have to find a “new normal” which includes other things besides food in this city. I really do want to have a more positive outlook and I know that this is going to require some efforts on my end of it to make the very best of it that I can. So absolutely, I think endeavoring to find this “best of Paris” on terms that fit both Paris and me will be a goal for 2010. I think you may know a thing or two about having to redefine life with some of your own experiences, eh? 🙂 I could probably use a bit of advice or mentoring in this area.

      Happy New Year to you, too, and I hope to connect again soon!

  9. Pingback: An Engaging Story « An Alien Parisienne

  10. lucy

    I know what it is like to deal with food allergies and how disconnected it can make you feel. I always enjoy reading your blog and love it when you post recipes!
    Reading about your stollen sadness reminded me of a book I happened upon by accident (at a garage sale!) I don’t know if it is still in print, but what attracted me to it is the fact that there is quite an extensive section on breads and alternative flours. the author seems to have experimented with many and has lots of helpful suggestions for which ones are best (and some really great recipes). It is definately worth a look around for it- its called ‘The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook” and is by Margorie Hurt Jones, RN first edition was 1984- mine is 2001. I had to stop eating wheat and yeast and this book really helped me to transition my diet (and it was a monumental task- as I was a bread fanatic).
    and its always nice to discover new tasty foods!

    • Hi Lucy! I am so glad you commented here! I really appreciate your taking the time to do that. I am glad to know you enjoy reading and like the recipes! Stollen Sadness – I like that term!! It’s kind of like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), LOL!

      The book you mention sounds really good. I found it here on Amazon, if anyone else is reading and wants the link. I happened to see this one, too: The Food Allergy Survival Guide. I have heard that one is good, too.

      I have to thank the Internet bunches, also. There is so much good information online, if one has the time to do some investigation (which I do right now). I have discovered so many helpful sites and bloggers who struggle with all of this, too. It is also nice the way we can all connect at blogs and forums and so on to spread information and provide encouragement, which is what you did for me today, Lucy. Thank you!

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