Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My favorite Christmas...

Dear Marsha... to reminisce on my favorite Christmas is an impossible task! I have loved every Christmas life has granted me...

As a child, the excitement of Christmas would almost be unbearable, the preparations, the new velvet dress, the joy to be with all my cousins and the ritual of opening all the presents. My great uncle, the patriarch of our family would arrive with loads of huge extravagant gifts! There were Teddy bears taller than I was, and boxes upon boxes of yet more gifts from my parents and relatives. Following a formal Christmas Eve dinner we would go to our beautiful beloved church for Midnight Mass.  Then off to the mountains for some intense skiing.

Clermont Dessous

As a teenager, I treasured Christmas. By that time, we would spend  Christmas  in the mountains, attending midnight mass in the small village church. Our tradition was to follow the Church service with intense noise making in the street of the town, up all night and then off to the slopes as soon as the lifts opened. We were an inseparable group of friends.


As an adult, I have never lost my love of Christmas and all the traditions. My happiest, most fulfilled Christmas was the Christmas my older son was born, the tree was gleaming, my parents in a delighted delirium with their newly born grandson, so well guarded by our Doberman Leila.

I said a very special prayer and deep thank you to God in his tiny church of Marshfield Hills, Mass where we were living at the time.
One very special Christmas was celebrated in the jungle of Borneo. From Camp Leaky, where we spend time hiking the rainforest and getting to know some of the orangutans, I decided to find a boat and get to a Dayak village. It took a few hours via speed boat to reach a village where we were immediately welcomed and we were invited to stay in a villager long house. I  had heard that there was a catholic mission way up in the rainforest, somewhere along  the river. Our guide/translator accepted to take us in search of the church where I was hoping to celebrate Christmas mass . This was one of the most extraordinary Christmas.As we walked the trail, we came upon this beautiful church which was filled with converted Dayaks. Everyone stood up, looked at us in disbelief, guided us towards the front pews and gave up their seats for us. We sat and listened to the chants, and endless hours of prayers in a dialect we of course, could not understand. These were precious hours, I prayed for my long gone grand parents, I thanked God for the beauty of the world and my loving wonderful family ...while melting away at 120 degrees temperature.

Central Kalimantan, Indonesia

I could go on and on with stories of Christmas. One tradition I dearly miss, is the reading of Christmas books to the children. I would buy a book each day of December until Christmas Eve, to read to my sons, the look on their faces as they were waiting for the new book was precious. The hours spent reading French and English stories, the anticipation of Christmas morning itself, I will miss forever.... until perhaps, one day, I will be given the joy of reading to my sons children.

A Bientot,



  1. A lovely post, Francine...I too could not choose one Christmas, like you I have been blessed with so many...your photograph of Chamonix brings back memories of a wonderful family Christmas we spent there ;-)
    Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and Peaceful New Year.

  2. Dear Francine,
    What beautiful Christmas memories you shared with us today! Fantastic international locations all interlaced with the spirit of church and family. I hope this holiday season brings you much joy! xxBarbara

  3. What precious, precious memories Francine!! The has truly been some magic moments for you! What a beautiful blessing it is for us to be able to recall and share special memories in this way!

    Sending Festive Cheer for a Splendid December!


  4. Beautiful. I too desperately miss sitting by a fire with my eager eyed boys wanting, begging me to read them their favorite stories....what I would give for that now! Oh well guess I will have to wait for grand kids. I love this season and all the magic and beauty that goes along with it...happy holidays!

  5. Francine, You've indeed had some memorable Christmases...Merry Christmas to you this year. Mona

  6. This is a beautiful, beautiful post Francine... and your Christmas times do sound quite wondrous... May this one be just as wonderful... xv

  7. What a beautiful narrative and a wonderfully illustrated post. You drew me into your Christmases' of old.

  8. This is a "true Francine" story. This is the Francine I love, the evocative, imaginative, creative, elegant, philosophical, beautiful Francine. Have a wonderful party tonight, my friend. Merry Christmas, darling...

  9. Francine, this filled me with wonder! As with Veronica's story in Kruger, we voyagers are so fortunate to have experienced such exceptional moments. And I see in your story the determination to go farther, to go to your limit! Sans aucun doute, this is what has made your business such a success and your life a fascinating one.
    Wishing you the happiest of holidays.

  10. I came to your blog via Marsha. I so enjoyed this post. I am looking forward to reading more ...

  11. Dear Francine,
    What wonderful Christmas memories which were a joy to read ...... I just love the way that everyone has a different story to tell but with all the same sentiments. Christmas has always been such a special and magical time for our family and I couldn't have a favourite either. XXXX

  12. love the tales of christmas.. it is such a joyful time... one day i will pop into nyc and we will go have fun .. i love the city at christmas... xoxoxox

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  14. Awesome post! Christmas is indeed one of the happiest holidays. Good thing you shared those priceless memories to the readers. Chamonix is indeed a great Christmas destination because of those those luxury chalets.


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