Life in the Languedoc

There’s something relaxing about living in the Languedoc at Christmas. Remember those frightening days of 24/7 shopping, panicking about who you’ve forgotten to send a card to… or worse… forgotten to buy a present for?  Well, calm down. Relax. You’re in the south of France. Christmas here is mostly about food – what a surprise! You’ve done your best to remember all and sundry. Now all you have to do is think about the dinner table. Well, supper table actually because the French start their celebrations with a healthy supper on Christmas eve. There’s a midnight mass of course, and then a feast of delights, including 13 desserts, that have more calories than you’ve had in the past 12 months!  Yum, yum, yum!!
Christmas day is all about family, close, not so close, in laws – it doesn’t matter. All are welcome. There will be enough food on offer to feed you for the next three months, little gifts for everyone and chocolates in abundance. These days there will even be Christmas crackers. Although they were invented by a Frenchman at the beginning of the last century they were banned in France for decades. By boxing day many will have sobered up and be back at work, exercising off all those calories of the past 24 hours!
There is something delightfully laid back about the way the French regard special occasions. It’s almost always a Gallic shrug and a more than decent spread on the dinner table. Even before the recent rugby world cup, which France, unexpectedly, came within one point of winning, L’Equipe sports writer, Erik Bielderman wrote, ‘We do not need them to be world champions, or to entertain to be French. We will always have the food, the wine and the flirting’.
So when it comes to this festive season why not do as the French do. Send a few cards to those who really matter to you. Scale down the present list. Invite the neighbours round for a few English treats like mince pies, which they love, and a glass of wine. Then put your feet up, maybe take a stroll on Christmas day, have a snooze, and enjoy a feast. Merry Christmas.
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