Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas 2009

WOW! We had a wonderful Christmas. It was full of many visits and many activities. This post is a bit long, but I want to remember everything and with my memory now, I have to post most of it. We started out Christmas Eve at the home of the Gigants. This faithful sister who has so little herself wanted us to feel welcome at Christmas time. She fixed a delicious dinner and we had such a good time together.

The boys, Gael, Manu, and Stephane kept us entertained the entire evening. They never stopped talking, singing, dancing, and goofing around. Gael goes to a special school and he is home for 2 weeks vacance. He is the quietest of the three. He and Stephane both got baptized along with Sylvie, their Mom. Manu is giving Sylvie a headache and Alexandre was not there. He is the really troubled one.

They put out their very best dishes and manners and the boys made a "big deal" out of presenting each dish and serving each person "in proper order". I was always served first and then Sylvie followed by Dh and then the boys by order of age.
While we were eating the appetizer, we had a toast said by Manu.

The next course was Vol au Vent. Yummy!

Then we had a stuffed roast with vegetables and Sylvie's special sauce.

We finished the meal with this ice cream Buche de Noel.

During dinner they were very excited to tell us that at midnight they would be putting the baby Jesus into the creche. The boys really wanted us to stay til midnight, but we couldn't. Gael took me upstairs to their bedroom to show me the creche. They were not sure yet who would have the honor of placing the baby into the manger.
After dinner we sang some Christmas hymns and then they had the gift exchange.
Oh my gosh! I have never seen such excitement in such big boys.

Stephane got the first 2 tomes of a series that he has been so anxious to read.

Gael bought himself his first gift and even wrapped it up himself. Ha. He was thrilled with the resin dragon. I got to admire it at length.

Then Stephane got 2 sets of some kind of trading cards, Pokemon, I think. He collects them. He ooohed and aaaahed and looked at each one. He screamed for joy at some of them. I guess a few of them were "tres rare". His Mom and I got to open each little packet and then she and Stephane himself read each name of each card and we got to exclaim over how wonderful it was. He was truelly excited.

Sylvie got these gold rimmed goblets from the boys. She said, "..we don't drink alcohol anymore," but the boys assured her that they could drink water or soda and that "they were so special because of the gold rims." She was happy with them. She also got a set of 4 cd's of Cecci, movies that she loves.

Gael also got the Harry Potter series. You can see he is so happy.

Manu had previouly received a couple of movies. He couldn't wait to open them.
This little family was thrilled and grateful for each present.
Stephane has been walking around with a thin, little sweatshirt, so we got him a warm jacket. We got the other boys warm hats and socks. Sylvie got some slippers and a set of nice dish towels and potholder. She gave us a box of chocolates at FHE last week.

The following morning, Christmas, we went to church for a missionary breakfast. The missionaries did all the cooking and also bought all the food. They told us that we were not to bring anything or do anything because we always do stuff for them. It was so nice and thoughtful of them to invite us. We had a great breakfast. They made french toast, scrambled eggs, french rolls, crepes, and had various drinks. We had a great time together. I did give each one of them some choc chip cookies in a baggie because they like them so much.

The gal in the middle is Emily. She got baptized this year. She is a lovely young woman and after the breakfast she was going out with the sisters to make some visits and then she invited them to her home for dinner. She is a single Mom and her daughter was gone with the Dad for the week. She was kind of sad, so we wanted to include her in our festivities.

The 2 new sisters in our district are Sister Koehler, in the white, from Midway, Utah and Sister Nielsen, in the green, from Logan, Utah. These 2 sisters are a great addition and we love them already.

We ate and talked and laughed and had a great time.

Elder Arhets did do all of the dishes and I helped a bit with the clean up, but that is all. The young missionaries did all of the work.

Here we all are fooling around and being crazy.

Later that day we picked up the Petrov's and drove to the Doit's home for Christmas luncheon, which lasted several hours.
Brother Doit is a counselor in the Bishopric. This is such a wonderful family. He served a mission in Paris as a young man. Then he met Jacqueline and after pursuing her for a while she agreed to date him and the rest is history. At first she didn't want to pay any attention to him because she wanted to serve a mission also, but after meeting him she fell in love. After getting married, they wanted children, but nothing happened. They had no children for 11 years. They had been to infertility specialist and had tried all sorts of medications and surgeries and treatments, but no babies. Then an apostle, Elder Nelson, come to France for a visit for conference. He met the Doits and felt impressed to give them a special blessing. He blessed them that they would have a family and they were soon able to have Esther, one of our JA's, Jonathon, and Noemi.
I think it was so nice of them to invite us and also the Petrov's. It's not so easy to invite someone to your home who does not speak the same language. I was the translator and now Hayrie is beginning to learn quite a bit of French.

Our first course was this smoked salmon with kiwi, lemon, tomatoe, and toast. I love smoked salmon.

The 2nd course was roast with pureed pumpkin and green beans, and fried potatoes.
Then we had a cheese and french bread course and finally a chocolate dessert.
The cute cards in the background with the 3 wise men are a welcome and menu written out.

Brother Doit is the main chef and in charge of the kitchen at a facility where people go to recover after being in the hospital. Can you believe I forgot the name in English? How did that happen? Now I remember, convalescent hospital. Sister Doit cleans the church every week.

Esther plays the piano for sacrament mtg. She played for us and she also played the flute. We all sang some Christmas hymns and songs.
The 3 young adults also sang some songs for us. Jonathon played the guitar.
We had a very, very nice time together.

The following day, Saturday, we invited our district missionaries to our house for Christmas dinner and celebration. We had the best time. I fixed turkey with some of the trimmings. Can't find everything here that we have at home, but I did make Southern Style Yams, Jello Pretzel Salad, Macaroni and Cheese dish, Brocolli Salad, and some had other things like chocolates, chocolate balls, pretzels, chips, etc. The missionaries brought green salad, Buche de Noel, cookies, crepes, baked potatoes, and Elder Harper made a huge choc. chip cookie that he topped with ice cream and we all ate that. Our dinner was so good and they were so happy to have a "taste of home" although the U.S. is not home for 4 of them.
We had a really fun gift exchange. They had all drawn names and got gifts for each other.
Dh and I gave them some litte gifts too. They were happy for each little thing they got.

Here they are stuffed after eating.

We talked, ate, laughed, and played several games. I know they all enjoyed it and I was so glad.

Elder Harper always teases the girls about having fancy, pretty scarves and how he wished he had one. Well, they got together and got him one. He was such a good sport and we had fun laughing with him as he wore his pink, glittery scarf.

The missionaries gave us 2 choc bars and this lovely book. Inside there were lots of pictures of them and us and each missionary wrote us a beautiful message. I can't even begin to believe all the wonderful things they said to us. I will treasure it always.

The girls loved their warm booties.(thanks Robin)

I got several white elephant gifts and they had a blast playing the game where you have a number and according to the order pick a gift. Then you can either keep your gift or steal someone elses gifts. It's a lot of fun.
Some of the gifts were gender specific, so that made for some funny times and lots of laughter.

Elder Cabrerra opened the big box that was wrapped and had many smaller boxes wrapped inside. He was hoping there was something at the end and then when he finally opened the last box, there was a pack of pencils. He was so happy to get "American pencils" "They're the best," he said.

Sister Gappmaeir opened men's bath gel.

Elder Carpenter picked the other big box and finally ended up with a notebook. He and Elder Cabrerra said they got the set. After lots of bartering one of them ended up with the whole set. Ha. There was lots of stealing and laughter going on.

2 of the gifts were lacy, black peds (kind of like socks). for girls to wear. Elder Carpenter picked one set first. It was quickly taken away by Sister Fritsch. Then Elder Carpenter had to pick again. So what happens? He picks the other set. Boy we teased him about that. He was a really good sport about it.

After the game was over, there was lots of trading and bartering going on.
"If you give me that men's shower gel, I'll give you this chocolate bar." "NO, I don't think so." "OK, I'll also throw in this jar of American peanut butter." "OK, it's a deal"
There were 2 wallets and a few socks filled with rice for keeping warm that were the most coveted items.
In the end, everyone was happy.

I also received this beautiful bouquet of flowers from the missionaries. Elder Shaunig was the instigator of this lovely thought.

Sunday we had to go to Calais for our monthly visit. Elder Arhets gave an awesome talk. The missionaries there had invited us for lunch when they learned that we were coming. Once again, we had a great visit. These awesome missionaries are doing a great job and we enjoyed spending time with them. We love Elder Spicer, in the front and we met Elder Rogers and he is a great guy too.
They fixed scrambled eggs and kind of like hash browns with a meat inside, served with toast. It was very tasty.
I brought them a big batch of choc chip cookies, which I know Elder Spicer loves. I also made some little dishes of things for their feezer that I thought they would enjoy.
Elder Spicer gave us peanut m&m's (my favorite) and a jar of peanut butter. I thought that was especially nice of him. Peanut butter from the U.S. is a prized and often fought over comodity here.
So, we had a wonderful Christmas, one we will always remember and treasure.