My boy and his family ever so graciously invited Grant, Matt, and me to celebrate Christmas Eve with them at home. It was my first Christmas to not spend with my family, but I was so thankful to have my little bubs there with me for our first Christmas in France.
We all sat down for the meal around 7:30pm, “we” being Grant, Matt, me, Michel, his parents, his brother and sister, his godmother, and two of his cousins. First up was a platter of little bread slices smothered with fish mousse, fish eggs, or pate. All three of us tried all three of them, and I was proud. I can’t say that I was a fan of the fish eggs but now I can say that I have eaten them! Next up, we all toasted our glasses full of a beverage called “kir”: creme de cassis mixed with champagne (or non-alcoholic champagne).
After that, it was foie gras (my favorite), and after that, we had a small dish with baked scallops. Oh my goodness. I was ready to stop here – we were at four courses already if you include the crackers we snacked on before everyone arrived – but before I could say “I’m full,” a traditional French song was blasting out of the speakers, napkins were being grabbed, and there was a whole lot of dancing going on. The boys and I exchanged looks – first perplexed, then amazed – and jumped up to join in on the fun. When I asked my guy why everyone was dancing, he said, “We have to make room for the main course!” I’ll take that as an answer.
The dancing went on for some time, until we had gone through all the great classics like the YMCA, Macarena, Cupid Shuffle (the Frenchies were a bit lost on that one), and countless French songs. We sat back down at the table and were presented with our plates, which words cannot describe…
After everyone had finished, we sat around for a while to let ourselves prepare for dessert. We started with a small cup of sorbet to “cleanse the palate” and then moved onto the cheese plate. Did I mention that us Americans were given cheese plate duty?! So much pressure. We chose emmental (type of Swiss gruyere), mozzarella, Camembert, and goat cheese. No riots broke out, so I think that everyone approved.
After that, I have a feeling more dancing ensued, but there was also lots of wine being passed around (did I mention that we all sang karaoke together?), and I stopped taking pictures until we got the real dessert plate: the buche. This is a traditional French Christmas cake that is absolutely gorgeous! Upon seeing the pictures, my mom asked me how to make one, and I said it’s easy: “Just go to the bakery and buy one.” She told me that someone has to make it, and I realized how impressive that is. Because they are gorgeous. And delicious.
Sometime before dessert, it was midnight, and that is when we all tore into our presents. Grant, Matt, and I are used to sitting around a circle and having each person take turns opening presents so that we can see what everyone got. Here, it was a complete free for all. Everyone was tearing open their gifts, thanking the gift-giver with a “bise,” and moving onto the next present. Two and a half hours later, the meal, presents, and dancing were finished, and it was time to go home. I’m pretty sure that it was the longest meal any of us have ever had – 7:30pm to 2:30am – and we were all beat. I asked Grant what he thought about his first Christmas in France…
“I’ve never partied so hard in my life,” he replied.