Tradition !

Noël 2009Noël 2009

Every year we celebrate Christmas with my husband’s family in the French countryside, in the Eure-et-Loir.  We make a stop in Paris on our way south, check out the sweet scene in the capital and spend some time with friends. We arrive just in time at my belle-mère’s to help decorate the tree and put out little dishes of chocolates and wrapped Papillotes in every room of the house.  Those are the Révillon chocolates below right (that were featured in Régal’s December/January issue), a specialty from Lyon, where both of my parents-in-law are from.

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We make sure there are enough logs and branches to keep the fire going nonstop for days to come. We place all of our slippers in front of the tree for the highly anticipated arrival of le Père Noël (Santa Claus). All is ready and we then sit down to the first big family meal – a cheese fondue, during which we talk about all of the delicious holiday meals to come.

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I love seeing how each and every tradition is upheld, yet some with a little twist.  Foie gras, oysters, smoked salmon, escargots, quail and gratinée (onion soup) are all Christmas staples.  Last year we had a buffet at Christmas eve.  It was a big success, with everyone together in front of the roaring fire, grabbing tartines with foie gras or with smoked salmon and dill.  This year we started in the same manner, sipping glasses of vin chaud (Glühwein / mulled wine) but then moved to the dining room for a formal seated meal, no missed opportunity to break out the good china.  I love when my mother-in-law shows me drawer upon drawer of heirloom pieces, gorgeous silver and crystal passed down from generation to generation.

The quail with bacon and sultanas (cailles en fricassée) was once again served on Christmas day, but I did notice a bottle of Cognac next to the casserole.  New ingredient… or perk for the chef?!  We enjoyed it with a squash gratin and sautéed chestnuts, followed by a generous cheese platter, as usual.  The classic bûche de Noël was an ice cream version, which I love for the beautiful silver gilt utensils made specifically to cut ice cream cakes (images above) – a present my mother-in-law’s grandparents received on their wedding day in 1905.  The cutting piece always reminds me of an elf’s shoe.

After all of that, it’s time to get some fresh air and work up a new appetite…

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We take a break from the cooking and eating to walk around the village, which dates back to the 13th century.  We go around the fields staring up at the mistletoe trees, while the family’s German Shepherd tracks down the pheasants hiding in the woods – then fluttering up up and away.  Back to the house and in front of the fireplace we go.  We play board games, look at old photo albums and unwrap those Papillotes, reading aloud the quotes hidden inside.

And we look forward to doing it all over again next year.

Noël 2009

I hope everyone has been enjoying the holidays.  Any fun or delicious traditions to share ?

How will you be ringing in the new year ?

19 Responses to “Tradition !”

  1. Tweets that mention Tradition ! | MyKugelhopf -- says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Travel News, Kerrin Rousset. Kerrin Rousset said: [new blog post] Tradition ! […]

  2. VeggieGirl says:

    SO beautiful.

    I’ll be ringing in the new year with my family – that’s our tradition 🙂

  3. barbara says:

    What a lovely family time. How wonderful to have such beautiful family heirlooms used with love. I hope one day my children and grandchildren will feel about some of my treasures.

  4. Steve says:

    You simply can’t beat tradition, especially when spent and enjoyed with family. And as usual, you captured each and every detail wonderfully with your camera… from the warmth of the fire to the chill of the walk in the countryside. Gorgeous. The happiest and healthiest of holidays to one and all. (oh, i’ve got a new holiday tradition – reading MyKugelhopf)

  5. Lani says:

    Thank you for sharing your Christmas in France. You made it very easy for us the reader to be part of your day experiencing the traditions of the family! The camera captured the ambiance of the fireplace, taking a walk through the village and then once again in the house cracking oysters. Love the way you captured just about every moment of the season. Hope you had a wonderful holiday and safe travelling to your next destination!

  6. katy says:

    insert contented sigh. just reading your post filled me with warmth and contentment. what a wonderful tradition. we’ve had a bûche de Noël each Christmas (2!) with lived here in Lux. This year my husband bought one at Oberweis, the best bakery in Lux. It was worth every penny! I made beef bourguignon for dinner following Julia Child’s recipe. Delish! Not tradition for us, but maybe we’ve started a new one!

    We also participated in our English friends celebration of Boxing Day – a walk in the woods and a shared meal. It was lovely. We tasted Christmas Pudding, mince pies and lunched on parsnip and apple soup. Needless to say we really enjoyed our taste of English tradition.

    Thanks for sharing your French Country Christmas with us! It sounds idyllic! Happy New Year to you!

  7. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    I was only just wondering the menu for your French Christmas dinner? I particularly love the gorgeous silver serving utenils that have been in the family for generations. Not related to Christmas, but when at my Mum’s this year, she did hand me a few silver pieces that have been in the family for quite a number of decades. Seems Christmas is the time not only to share, but to remember.

    I thoroughly love the gentle stroll that you all took around the village. I fear that Christmas in Brisbane is never as picturesque, no matter now much you try. Too hot. Too tropical. Too sticky. I dream of white Christmases. So glorious. Fingers crossed for next year! 😉

    Pictures of the lovely dogs next time, yes? 🙂

  8. Matt says:

    Thank you for sharing your Christmas with us.

  9. Akila says:

    Wonderful family traditions! I love the idea of starting with cheese fondue. That is one of our New Year’s Eve traditions. And, how wonderful that your family has passed down utensils from 1905 – very few people keep things so well and in such good condition. It sounds like you had very lovely holidays.

  10. Uncle Beefy says:

    Well, Kerrin… I am SO sorry. I mean how AWFUL! But moments of unbearable suffering like this build one’s character. Is it the nicest way to spend a holiday? Surrounded by family, history, the phenomenal French language, AND a glorious bounty of food? Well, let’s just say it’s no “corn dog eatin’ contest at The Mall of America” but I guess it’ll just have to do. Siiigh. You poor, poor thing. 🙁

    Happy New Year! 😉

  11. jen laceda says:

    I LOVE Trivial Pursuit. I haven’t played it since I’ve had my daughter…been too busy and distracted, I guess! You know what else I miss? Oysters!! Pregnancy has its downside, too…

  12. jkiel says:

    These are great, and it looks like you had excellent weather to walk off all the yummy goodies! We’re just back from New Orleans – thought about having the Reveillon dinner at the Commander’s Palace, but looking at the menu, just TOO much food! (plus one of our party has celiac disease, no flour-based sauces for her, so no Reveillon dinner for her either… we ordered off the menu as usual this time)
    Lots of oysters in New Orleans too – not my favorite by any means, but they’re sure photogenic!

  13. JB says:

    Your French family Christmas sounds like a scene from a wonderful, heart warming movie. Would that I were a bit player in the dining room scene!!! Happiest of New Years to you and your kin, from us’ns here in Atlanta. JB

  14. Kerrin says:

    So happy to hear that everyone had wonderful Christmas celebrations. And now I can say officially – H A P P Y N E W Y E A R ! 🙂

    VeggieGirl, what more tradition do you need than family ? Perfect.

    Steve, thanks so much for your beautiful words – and for that new tradition of yours – reading MyKugelhopf. Love it !!

    katy, your holiday meals sound fantastic, mmm ! A French Christmas and an English Boxing Day, how fun !! Thanks for sharing ! I remember you mentioning the Oberweis shop and I’ve had it in my notes ever since. Sure hope to get there one day. Thanks again and… e glécklecht neit Joer to you in Luxembourg !! 🙂

    Julia, you said it best, Christmas is a perfect time to share and remember. Funny to think of it as tropical in Brisbane – perhaps you will have that white Christmas in 2010 ! I sure hope so. You would be on cloud nine for sure.

    Akila, how was your new year’s fondue ?! Always such fun to do with family and friends. I agree that it’s so outrageous to have objects passed down from so long ago. What I find even more remarkable, is that the family really uses them all – the objects don’t just sit in boxes in the attic or in storage not being appreciated.

    Uncle Beefy, thank goodness you are always there to comfort me in times like these. Even though – I wouldn’t mind having that corn dog at the Mall of America one day… with YOU ! 🙂 Happy new year Mr. B, thanks for the smiles and giggles, as always.

    Jen, Trivial Pursuit rocks ! Before Christmas with Olivier’s family, I hadn’t played it since I was a kid either ! 😉 Only thing is – any time there is a question that has ANYTHING to do with America – whether it’s history, politics, arts, literature, sports… everyone looks at me like I should know it ! ha ha !! 🙂 Hope you’re feeling great !

    jkiel, oh absolutely, we got real lucky with the weather – a break from all the rain and snow to have that wonderful stroll around. That said, it was freeeeeezing ! ha ha! Hope you had a fun and delicious time in New Orleans. I’ve never been, but wow is that a food lover’s city, right ?!

    JB, thanks so much for the kind words. Happy new year and best wishes coming to you too from across the ocean ! 🙂

  15. Yeye says:

    These sound like wonderful holidays! Spending a true & authentic Christmas full of delicacies … Lucky you! I love the last picture, we can even guess the ears of the big dog 🙂

  16. Melanie@TravelsWithTwo says:

    France at Christmas? Yes, please! Thanks for (virtually) bringing me along for your holiday, bubbie. I, too, am a fan of Trivial Pursuit, long country walks and antique china and silver.

    The latter always feels like the holidays to me, which is why sometimes, when the year’s feeling long and I need a culinary pick-me-up, I’ll bust out my vintage cut crystal, fish fork, salt spoons and 1845, Far East-themed pattern and throw a little dinner party.

    Here’s to more celebrations in 2010!

  17. Lopsang Sherpa says:

    Wonderful family traditions! I love It. That is one of our Christmas and New Year?s Eve traditions. Wish everyone has wonderful holidays every year ahead.

  18. Eileen @ Passions to Pastry says:

    Your Christmas in France sounds absolutely lovely.

  19. Baron's Life says:

    A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family. Such a wonderful ambiance…truly European traditional heritage. Wonderful…you’ve not only captured the moment but you gave us an inside look at a warm and welcoming family through your photography and narration…Thanks for inviting us into your Christmas world.

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