At our house, Christmas is kind of haphazard. We have absolutely no traditions, unless you count cutting your hands shucking oysters or stuffing yourself with foie gras until you have no room for the rest of dinner (my mother loves foie gras and Sauternes, and I have a sneaking suspicion that’s her one and only reason for celebrating Christmas. We grew up atheist, after all).
Ah yes, and making gorgeous, colorful Christmas trees because our family is super into decorating.
One day we decided we were against turkey (too dry!) so we started doing baked fish. At one point, the dessert had to be Black Forest cake (in the shape of a “bûche”, yule log, which is a French tradition) then we switched to Strawberry Cream cake (in the shape of bûche) then more recently, we’ve switched to a delicious Christmas bûche (not in the shape of a yule log) that we get on Cours Napoléon. Sometimes my mother decides to go to bed at 9:00 no matter how much we protest, and sometimes a part of the family goes to Midnight Mass, which in Corsica is really at midnight (I heard in other places it’s not). Sometimes everything is wrapped up in two hours, dishes included, and other times, we spend all night singing Corsican songs by the fire, drinking champagne and eating clementines. Then there are times when we all end up half asleep in front of the TV by 9:30, totally forgetting the melting ice cream cake we left on the table.
As for gifts, we don’t make too much fuss. Secretly, I’d actually really like it if we made a little bit more of a fuss. I really like the idea of giving gifts, even if they’re very simple. Opening them together, laughing, enjoying ourselves.
I think one day, I’ll tell everyone to come celebrate Christmas in New York, and gifts will be required, haha. I think it’s important to create family traditions.
Fortunately, my brothers and sisters had the great idea to have adorable kids, so we get to live vicariously through them the joy of opening presents by the Christmas tree. I love hearing the kids waking up early to tear open the wrapping paper, tease each other, exchange loot, and spend hours there, with their eyes still sleepy and full of dreams…
Translated by Andrea Perdue