Or maybe I should now be saying “Twas the season”, Twelfth Night and all that. I was going to write about something else but then I saw the pictures of the Black Friday supermarket madness in the UK. I know it was a few weeks ago now but I wanted to wait and see what Christmas was like out here this year. We’ve been here a few years now but seeing the aforementioned UK mayhem made me realise how differently the French “celebrate” the festive season. We found that more was always made of New Year than Christmas and that still seems to be the case but maybe to a lesser extent. There seems no doubt that certain aspects of life here in the Dordogne are being somewhat Anglicised and I think, let’s call it “Christmas Creep”, is one of them. I certainly don’t remember any houses with all-over lighting displays to keep EDF in profit 9 years ago, but there are a couple near to us. They’re fairly remote too, so I don’t think their intention is to show off, nor do I know whether they belong to French or British people. Either way, I wonder what the other locals make of the displays? I must ask. However, they are still quite rare and in some villages, the opposite often applies. In a local village, which shall remain nameless, a reindeer/sleigh/Father Christmas combo stays fixed on the Mairie wall all year round, just unplugged. We did our pre-Christmas shopping at Périgueux and Limoges and didn’t pay a centime to park. At a time when UK retailers and their landlords try to extract every penny out of you, an indoor shopping centre in Limoges offered free parking in the morning, only 2 Saturdays before Christmas Day. It was quite busy, as you’d expect and I didn’t see one single fight.
Christmas cards are still a challenge. There are no dedicated greetings card shops here, you will usually find a spartan selection in stationers, supermarkets and gift shops, where there are as many New Year as Christmas cards. This is a double-edged sword, you don’t walk into a card shop and spend a fortune but you can’t find any special ones for family members. And to continue with the sword idiom, those special cards in the UK are expensive but the smaller, simpler ones out here are far more expensive than they really ought to be. I suppose though these are being phased out by social media and e-cards anyway. I haven’t even mentioned Christmas culinary differences but my last effort was all about food and I won’t go there again just yet. Don’t want you to think I’m obsessed.
Now though, we’re all back to work after the holidays, which of course includes call centres. It isn’t only phone users in the UK now that are bombarded with cold calls. French companies are certainly catching up there and they’ve ramped up again after the break! “Vive la difference” is what I say and Bonne Année/Happy New Year to all from Neill and Terri.