Saturday, 24 December 2011

When friends make contact...

I often feel socially isolated here in France. Unable to get around much and still suffering from the language barrier it's hard to make friends. Of course, I consider Victoria who works with me as a friend but we rarely see each other socially. It was therefore with great warmth and pleasure that I experienced a little bit of contact this past week from people I had not expected to hear from or see.

Being Christmas, I sent out my usual Christmas newsletter from myself with a contribution from Laura to various friends and special contacts. Most responded with either a brief hello or a longer, newsier update or article of their own. Fantastic, I felt a little more reconnected. People I enjoyed in the past-I still enjoy, the miles matter little in that regard. Some friends are on their own adventures elsewhere in the world, enduring jobs they don't like, reviewing what they want to do next year, having grandchildren,looking after aging parents, my ex getting engaged, folks dropping out of the conventional 'stream' of things. I haven't heard yet from my friends back in Christchurch who are still suffering multiple major earthquakes more than 15 months from the first.

Out of the blue I received an email from Laurence. We met just over a year ago when she invited me to have dinner with her and her daughter but we'd had little contact in the interim.

There I was this week after work, catching a train to her town, Laurence meeting me at the station and driving me to her new home. It's lovely, homey, in good condition and perfect for a lovely lady in retirement. Her son still lives with her and she recently hosted a student from Germany.

The petit-fours came out of the oven, we devoured the main course and finished with fresh oranges and vanilla icecream. I admired the gingerbread house covered in lollies that a German student living nearby had made. A very convivial evening shared together completely in French.

Yesterday I received a call from Pascal in Brittany. Contact from him is extremely rare so it was lovely to hear from him and know he was thinking of me and even discussing me with his friend Pascal (2) whom I met last year. Last Christmas, as you'll recall, I spent my first Christmas in France with Pascal's family. His Mum still asks after me. They are lovely people and Pascal will always be a good friend in my heart for introducing me to the beauty of Brittany and all the laughs we shared.

This Christmas I'm spending the festive season with someone particularly special and intimate in my life. The wonderful Jean-Claude who has added so much colour and richness to this year for me. It will be quiet. His daughter and her son are here some of the time so it's a French family Christmas but without a lot of people. It's easier for me to converse like that and a rest is very welcome.

It's Christmas Eve as I write this and in JC's house one shares presents around midnight. If the kids are asleep they are woken up to unwrap what Father Christmas has delivered. Right now the tree lights are twinkling, the fire is crackling and flaming. And I think we are eating roast lamb for dinner, having had a delicious roast porc with sauce accompanied by a superb Pinot Gris for lunch. La Belle France....
Photos of Laurence and Pascal...


Alison said...


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