According to Jordan, “it’s not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls from Nakatomi plaza.” So to officially kick off the Christmas season in the Shane household, we watched the movie Die Hard. If you aren’t familiar with the thirty-two-year-old movie, let’s break it down. The story follows John McClane, a police officer who decides to visit his wife on Christmas Eve at her fancy office party. Hans Gruber and crew, the international terrorists, had other plans in mind for that evening. Gruber shut the building down to steal a ton of money and took everyone at the office party as hostages. With the help of his trusty sidekick outside the building, McClane took the terrorists down and saved the day! I’ve seen the movie before. But this time, all I was thinking about was, “Wow! An office party! With so many people?” And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to our COVID Christmas season in 2020.
Jordan and I have spent our time recently watching a copious amount of Christmas movies. We even gave ourselves an exception and started before Thanksgiving! After all, it was just an ordinary day in France. So far, we’ve watched: Home Alone, Home Alone 2, The Santa Clause, The Santa Clause 2, The Santa Clause 3, A Year Without Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Elf, The Grinch (both animated and original), and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. And yes, Die Hard. You can say that we are pretty well-versed in Christmas movies this year. Especially so because the second lockdown did not actually end on December 1.
Yes, we are still in lockdown. However, the new month has brought some relief to the strict rules that France has enforced. The French government announced a phased approach to get us back to “normal.”
Here’s the covid deconfinement plan:
- Our one-kilometer radius expanded to twenty kilometers (twelve miles!).
- Our one hour time allotment expended to three hours a day.
- All the shops can be open again! Yay for Christmas shopping!
- We will be able to travel outside our region.
- Confinement will officially be over, and a nightly curfew of 8 pm will be enforced.
- Attestation letters will no longer be required (unless during curfew).
- Restaurants and bars can reopen.
- We are finally “free”?
- Vaccines will be available to the general French population, including Jordan and me.
January 20 seems a lifetime away. Can we just fast forward there?
In Lyon, it feels like Christmas has been canceled. The iconic Christmas markets throughout Europe are not happening. The famous Fête des Lumières in Lyon will not be turning on any lights this year. Restaurants will not be filled with families reuniting for the holidays. We will not be going home for the holidays this year. COVID has put a damper on the Christmas season for everyone.
So, what is our COVID Christmas season going to look like? Instead of streaming “Blue Christmas” and opening a tub of ice cream because everything is canceled, it’s up to us to make our spirits bright during this crazy year!
“You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I’m telling you why,
Because COVID can’t cancel Christmas this year!”Santa Claus, in 2020, probably
HOW WE ARE MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT
GIANT ADVENT CALENDARS
My mom taught me to always wait until it’s on sale, and she would be proud. We bought our 24-day advent calendars three days late. But, we got it for almost 30% off! I chose a very American advent calendar, “M&M’s & Friends.” Jordan chose the Lindor chocolate calendar. These advent calendars are enormous! Mine is almost two feet tall. On the back of my calendar, it tells me how many items there are of each candy. Jordan started to read it out loud, and I made him stop. I would rather it be a surprise each day!
FRENCH CHRISTMAS MUSIC
To practice French, we turned on French Christmas tunes. It’s turned into a two-part game. First, do we recognize the music? Second, do the French songs match the words of their American counterparts?
We’ve always wondered how the translations would work because the words would need to fit the tune. We learned that they rarely match. Here’s some examples:
- Silver Bells
- “Silver Bells” is replaced as “C’est Noël,” which means “It’s Christmas.”
- Jingle Bells
- “Jingle Bells” is instead sung as “Vive le vent,” which translates to “Long live the wind.”
- Santa Claus is Coming to Town
- “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is actually “Père Noël Arrive Ce Soir,” meaning “Father Christmas arrives tonight.”
- Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
- “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” is worded as “Danser autour du vert sapin,” which translates to “Dance around the green tree.”
But the tunes sound great!
If you would like to entertain yourself with truly interesting Christmas music, google the artist Cayouche. He’s a French-Canadian singer that looks a lot like Santa Claus, with a voice that makes me skip the song within the first fifteen seconds.
A CHRISTMAS TREE
We did not ship our artificial Christmas tree with us when we moved to France. In fact, the only Christmas items we sent over with us were our matching red initial stockings. We did not plan on having a Christmas tree at all. After all, we never planned on spending Christmas in France. But today, it’s a non-negotiable! Jordan had to talk me into the idea of buying a tree, and I’m glad he did.
We went to our local grocery store on Monday to look at what Christmas decorations were available. It was a sad selection between fake-looking trees and even faker-looking trees. Disappointed, I told Jordan we should not buy any of these. I suggested we go to a larger store that may have a bigger selection. On Wednesday, we started the car for the first time in a few weeks and drove to a hypermarché. Think of a hypermarché as a giant Walmart. It has everything and more!
Again, my mom would be proud because all Christmas items were discounted to 40% off for a few days only. Jordan liked the Christmas decorations at the shopping center near our house, and we used it as inspiration. The color theme would be gold, silver, and navy. I was initially concerned it would look like a Hanukkah tree, but the gold really makes it pop!
A CHRISTMAS SCENTED CANDLE
It just would not feel like Christmas in the Shane household without the scent of a fresh Christmas tree. So we settled for the second-best thing, a Christmas garland scented Yankee Candle.
And this is how we plan on getting through the COVID Christmas season. We may not be walking through a winter wonderland or dashing through the snow. But we will continue to make our spirits bright as we make the best of a difficult situation, just like we have done all of 2020!