12.16.2009

Christmas- Comme les Français


Every year around this time my elderly neighbors in the apartment across the street place two lighted menorahs in their windows- the glow of the candelabras dance off of their lace curtains. Next to them a young couple- newlyweds presumably- have erected a Christmas tree- decorated only with white lights. I love observing these subtle observances of the holidays… little things that people do to celebrate this time of year and what it means for them.

I am definitely in the camp that prefers subtle holiday decorations. As a kid, the more Christmas decorations the merrier, but now as an adult with my own family, my tastes have changed and I err on the side of subtlety. B and I put up a tiny four-foot Christmas tree decorated with white lights and red ribbons (pictured above). Two miniature rosemary trees sit on top of our fireplace and remind me with their soothing scent that the holidays are here… and our holiday cards are paraded neatly on a bow hanging over our hallway closet to cheer us when we enter the house. It’s not much but it is enough to remind us of the specialness of the season.

Not going too over the top and celebrating Christmas in a subtle but enjoyable fashion is a very French thing to do. I can’t imagine any blow up snowmen on the lawns of Famille Chic’s holiday home or massive piles of presents under the tree… After all this time of year is about spending time with your family, eating really good food and feeling grateful for what we already have- a great attitude that allows us to not stress out and remember what’s important…

I hope your holiday season so far is enjoyable and filled with magic and love…

19 comments:

Michael Rivers said...

I like a little more classic look too. Although, my tree is filled with decorations this year. But I do think it looks classy. I hope any way! I wouldn't do a yard full of blowups etc. I love white lights outside. Simple. Classy.

M.Lane said...

We had white lights outside our house for years and decided to jazz it up a bit this year. We went with all great big opaque multi-colored bulbs. They look really 50s retro and are VERY festive! And if one burns out you just screw the bulb out and replace it. Very nice thoughts on the right Holiday attitude, btw.

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

BonjourRomance said...

I agree totally - simple and classic is always better with most everything! The important thing is spending time with your family and friends.
Wishing you and yours a holiday filled with just that!

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

yay, this was lovely thank you!

Alan Burnett said...

Sometimes I feel like getting rid of so many of the Christmas traditions and starting again. Mind you, we are so late in starting to get things together this year, I may just achieve my objective.

Bonjour Madame said...

I go for understated decorations too. It's not all over my house, just in one or two spots and my tree is tiny and fits on a table. Love the photo of the tree. It's charming.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

Christmas feels like a time of sparkle and glitter here in the Humble Bungalow. We string up fairy lights, all white and buy a small fir tree add small white fairy lights and all vintage ornaments, mostly the glass pine cones and small glass balls.
That is about all we have room for as we are space challenged so I MUST exercise restraint.
Simple and understated, like your approach.

Rebecca said...

I prefer understated too or as my father used to quote "simplicity is the essence of beauty." So very true.

I love your tree!

Easy and Elegant Life said...

I remember from our time there being struck by how uncommercial Christmas is in France. Decorations appeared seemingly moments before Christmas Eve and many of our neighbours decorated the tree that night. The following twelve days were magical, as was Midnight Mass in the little Cathedral. Truly a family celebration.

"And that's the true meaning of Christmas Charlie Brown."

The Coastal Chicster said...

i completely agree! even though my mom used to go overboard (and still does) with all of the expensive hallmark ornament collections and rainbow lights on our tree, it was still classy - nothing inflatable, and nothing extremely ridiculous. i am still using the small 5-foot christmas tree i purchased at target when i was in my first apartment...i think i'll post a picture of it later. :)

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

Eek, I just lost my comment so forgive me if I repeat myself here. Lovely post, Jennifer. I also have a tiny tree but more because of my tiny house I keep boasting of. I think inside me is the type of person who would love to go over the top and decorate their house so all the children come from miles to stand in awe. I have a growing collection of Christmas ornaments but sadly never enough space to put them all up. You are wise - simplicity is best. I love your miniature rosemary trees. xx

BigLittleWolf said...

Love the tree. I definitely agree that less is more when it comes to this time of year. And where possible, natural... greenery, berries, fruit, pine cones, little white lights.

We also put ribbons on the tree, siimple ornaments, white lights. (And yes, my little shoe ornaments!)

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Michael- Post a picture of your tree on your blog- I'd love to see it!

M. Lane- I love that retro look- you're right- it is so festive!

Bonjour Romance- thank you- I hope your holiday season is wonderful too...

Thanks Chelsea!

Alan- It's so hard to start new traditions isn't it? I hope your late start to the holidays provides for some inspiration :)

Bonjour Madame- Thank you- I love the understated look too- and seeing decorations in certain areas of the house- not everywhere you look...

Hostess- a small space does practically force one to practice restraint- it helps that we don't live in a large house (although that would be nice!) :)

Rebecca- Thanks! And so true with that quote- love it!

Easy and Elegant- You hit the nail on the head- Christmas in France is soooo much less commercial than it is here- at least in the family setting- the shops still get decked out...

Coastal Chicster- I would love to see your tree- I hope you post a pic!

Josephine- I can totally picture your cottage becoming a gingerbread house and all of the children wanting to be there for Christmas! I bet it is lovely- hope you post a picture!

BigLittleWolf- I love ribbons on the tree- it's so Victorian- I make sure I have them every year- love your shoe ornaments :)

Tom Bailey said...

Then:

As a kid I think I was overwhelmed with christmas... 3 trees... lights that were like the commedy movie with chevy chase...

Now:

I have christmas minimalist decorations. A candle and a tree in the middle of my table...an all metalic tree.

The Paris Poodle said...

So true! The french really do have to do everything with an understated subtly - here in Paris it is all very tasteful! Im a sucker for the overload extreme Christmas decoration - its somewhat of a tradition to rehaul most of the rooms in our house at home in England and create a victoriana festive feel - also a very nice way to do xmas!
Wishing you a very merry xmas and a jolly new year -will keep checking in your lovely blog! xx

Dining on Deals said...

Your tree looks lovely! We tend to err on the side of Christmas overboard - the season just makes me so happy!! Our tree is a remembrance of the years past - we pick up ornaments wherever we travel and write dates and places on the bottom. Our goal is to eventually not have a single bare branch:)

BonjourRomance said...

Just another quick visit, want to congratulate you on the well done piece you did for Tish over at A Femme d'un Certain Age. Tea, soaps, books of poetry - perfect.

tishjett@yahoo.com said...

Our tree is always only white lights, but giving and collecting special ornaments over the years has not allowed for "sophisticated" decorating, but it has it's own charm.

Let's see, wreaths on the doors and that's about it. We have candles burning and the fireplace ablaze all winter long so the festive atmosphere plays well with what we do every evening. Of course so does the Champagne, which we don't do every evening. .

And, yes, once again you are so right. Christmas in France is not about a glut of gifts, but about family and of course food, food, food .

Thank you, my dear, for your lovely contribution.

Tishxo

Duchess of Tea said...

My darling I wish you and yours all the joy, love, hope, blessings, peace, laughter, miracles, good health and boundless wealth during this holiday season and always.

Love & Hugs
Duchess

 
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