Not Christmas yet….

Everyone knows I’m a Christmas Refuser.  Oh, I enjoy Christmas alright.  I made our cake weeks ago, and Malcolm and I regularly ‘feed’ it with doses of brandy to make sure it’s good and sozzled.  I’ll happily rehearse Christmas music at choir too.

But that’s about it.  I do an about turn in any shop belting out Christmas Muzac and leave immediately.  I haven’t bought a single card or present, nor shall I until …. oh…. about the end of next week .  Then it’ll all get done in a flurry of cheerful activity, and I’ll enjoy it, because I haven’t been thinking about it since September.

Then the other day, I came across this six-years-old blog post, written in France.  Simpler times, simpler customs.  I wonder how often the window displays I wrote about here are seen these days? Innocent pleasures….

December 9th, 2012

Christmas on the High Street

Verzeille&decoDec2012 033It was 5 years ago when we were first in Laroque round about Christmas time.  There were no signs of its coming until well into December, and we thought it wonderful: no decorations, no adverts, merchandise or muzak,  just a bustle of festive activity from about two or three weeks beforehand.

The first signs, as in England, were in the shops.  Unlike England however, most shopkeepers didn’t usually buy tinsel, baubles, and several packs of cotton wool to introduce a Christmas theme into their window display.  Instead they had a seasonal design applied directly to the window.  We once saw a scene-painter busily decorating a local window, and wondered what he did the rest of the year.  Shops in small town high streets like Laroque’s would all be unified by being the same but different.  The same folksy interpretations of Christmas motifs, the same limited palettes of white, red, greens and yellows.  Some would choose scenes of reindeer amongst the Christmas tree forests, others Father Christmas,  snowmen, or radiant candles.

Garage in Laroque

Five years on, hardly any shopkeepers are keeping up this tradition.  They’re decorating their shops, but in their own way: dressing up their window display with baubles, snowflakes and Santa Claus figures.  They’re nicely done too, but I miss the particularly French idea, which I’ve seen nowhere else.

Here are the few traditional window scenes I’ve been able to find this year.  Maybe next year even these will be part of the past.

A baker’s shop in Laroque.

21 thoughts on “Not Christmas yet….”

  1. I do not like Christmas at Halloween at all, and that is what it has become here in the States. I have always believed that the time to get ready for Christmas was from Thanksgiving til Christmas Eve. Then, it was time to celebrate for the twelve days following, ending on Epiphany. Still hold pretty close to that.
    I was very taken by your memories of Christmas windows past. When I was a small girl, my Aunt always took me downtown in Detroit to stare at the beautiful Christmas window displays, all sugar candy land, dancing princesses, and lights abundant. And on the 12th floor was where I went to see Santa. The entire floor was turned into a very magical world with a different theme each and every year. Oh, how I miss those displays, how I would love to take my grandchildren to one now!

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    1. Oh, I think we can agree on that. There are still places that do fairly traditional visits to Father Christmas with all the trimmings, but a lot are horribly commercial. Ah well. We’re grumpy old women , I suppose….

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  2. The windows in France are quite beautiful- festive but tasteful. I hate the way people in Australia put lights and tacky blow up Santa on their houses- it doesn’t fit with the hot weather. Bright lights are cheery in the cold- not 38 degrees. Anyway- nature is in her element at the moment- the purple and white of jacaranda trees, agapanthus, hydrangeas, gardenias and the red of Christmas bush. Why compete with tinsel?
    Meg

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  3. Lovely windows. I can’t agree about Christmas tho! I’m just about ready (although waiting for the butcher to release giblets so I can make stock). This means I’m free to party etc with no pressure – we went to London last night very relaxed to see Bill Bailey. We were in Yorkshire last weekend with all the family getting soaked as you described in your previous post except we had a dry hour to scatter my father’s ashes. I had been dreading this but it turned out to be a lovely event.

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  4. I love that window with the polar bears! Most of the Christmas decorations here involve bright lights and huge inflatable lawn ornaments. In a word . . . tacky. We are such Christmas refusers in my family, we don’t even give gifts! We get together and enjoy the time but it’s all really very low key.

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  5. Those windows are nice. I also hate the muzak and general crassness and that it assaults us from so early on. My English mother used to honour British-style Christmases and this is our first Christmas without her. Our small family will gather for a low-key meze type of outdoor thing. But I might make a sherry trifle in honour of my mum – without jelly of course.

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      1. Thanks so much Margaret. She would prefer to have turkey and all the trimmings. She even prepared all that despite her illness with only a little help from us for her last Christmas (and accepted that I don’t eat turkey). She did concede that traditional Christmas pud was a bit much in our hot summers, and so trifle became a good compromise.
        I wonder if you have any of your fruit-infused gin on hand for this Christmas? One day I’d like to try making that.

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      2. Oh you should. All you need is the gin, some appropriate fruit, some sugar and some empty bottles – sometimes a spice or two. This year, I can offer you Seville orange gin, mulberry gin and sloe gin. I wonder what fruits you have that are suitable?

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  6. Yes, I think the French have it with Christmas not starting until December. Alas my online shop endeavours mean I have to start discussing the whole caboodle earlier. Very impressed with your cake already at the feeding stage. I expect it will taste delicious come the 25th.

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  7. It’s wonderfully laidback here too. I bought a small tree yesterday and am looking forward to decking it with old English baubles tomorrow. (I was walking, and then eating, today. The tree might have been a bit wonky if I’d attempted it this afternoon 🙂 )

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