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A Traditional Christmas in Paris…Or Not?

One Christmas my daughter stayed in New York and I stayed in Paris. Even though it’s not a religious holiday for us, it’s a time when families are together, so if you’re alone, it could be the worst, not the best of times. The air fares were a fortune for a last minute rendez-vous and decided then and there that being apart on this holiday was for the birds…better to plan farther in advance so that regardless of where, we could be together.

This year, she’s here…home. There still isn’t much celebration of the holiday to speak of, but the spirit of it all is just as good — it’s quality time taken to spend together. Most families likely don’t celebrate Christmas Eve the way we did last night — with a three-hour hypnosis session promised me. Erica is practicing her technique as a Quantum Healing Hypnosis Therapist and I couldn’t wait to be one of her ‘Guinea pigs.’

There was doubt as to whether I’d be a good subject or not…and I wasn’t. The control-freak self refused to allow the subconscious in, although I know some of the imagery I related under this very relaxed state was poignant and telling. Another session is planned to see if there’s a chance I can succumb at the sound of her soothing voice to being open and vulnerable — enough to imagine other times and places my soul could have existed.

 Erica Simone's Christmas treeErica’s Christmas treeJewish-Chinese ChristmasLao Siam, ParisFree transport for New Year’s Eve on Paris Métro

After the session, it was set in our minds to go to our favorite restaurant — Chez Omar…but sadly found it shut tight this one night. Omar almost never closes, so it was a shock to see it dark and lifeless with the chairs piled up on the tables, except for one lone table at the rear where a few of the staff were sitting. The door was locked and all we could do was wave to them, mouth “Joyeux Noël” and head back to Café Charlot, the only restaurant open on rue de Bretagne (no matter that we had lunched there earlier that day!). It wasn’t as busy as usual, realizing that the rest of Paris was most likely dining at home on roast ham topped off with “Bûche de Noël,” not downing burgers and “escalope de veau” like we were.

Today the streets are insanely quiet. From my desk, I can see blue skies with wispy clouds rolling quickly by. That’s a sign that at some point, the blue skies will revert to the usual gray and perhaps Paris will be rainy — in fact, there is a 30% chance of it. (What else is new?) During the hypnosis, Erica asked me to imagine listlessly rising and sitting on a fluffy cloud in contentment, but all I could see was gray, rain, cold and misery at the thought of a cloud. (Is this the “Gray Paree” I have come to know…and not love?)

Later today we’re planning to do what Jews do on Christmas. While Gentiles are busy opening gifts, we are gathering in movie theaters and Chinese restaurants if not for something to do, but for doing something traditional — in our own way.

In Paris it isn’t as acute as in other places, such as New Orleans — another city where I’ve had this experience. At the movie theater, we might know more than half the movie-goers as friends and relatives. At the restaurant, the tables are filled to the brim with whole families and again, we could know just about everyone there. It’s more like a private party than a dinner out. That won’t be true here in Paris, but you can bet that tonight, Lao Siam will be filled with others like us (our favorite Asian resto at 49, rue de Belleville, 75019, Phone: +33 1 40 40 09 68).

I’ve never even had a Christmas Tree — our parents would never have thought of it, nor allowed it. When my daughter wanted one, to be just like her friends, or just to have the pleasure of its pretty presence, I denied her, out of tradition. It seemed heretic to even consider such a thing. One year in rebellion she put up her own tree decorating it with whatever she could find in the kitchen and desk drawers and closets. It was certainly unique with such ‘ornaments’ as spatulas, scotch tape, pots and knives! (Please don’t tell my mother!)

To ring in the new year, I’m headed down to Nice where it’s more than 10 degrees warmer. You’ll be hearing from me come Monday from the sunny south. But, for all of you enjoying New Year’s Eve in Paris, the RATP has good news — the Métro will be running all night long and free of charge! In order to make travel easier in the Paris region on New Year’s Eve, STIF is repeating the “Free transport for New Year’s Eve” operation — open and free of charge from 5 p.m. to 12 noon on January 1st. For a complete list guide of participating lines and stations, download the pdf brochure or visit ratp.fr/.

Merry Christmas and Almost Happy New Year.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds, New Year's EveAdrian Leeds

Editor, Parler Paris & Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC

 

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