2 Down, 3 To Go

So today was #2 of 5 Christmas gatherings I will be participating in. The next is Christmas Day here. Than it’s Christmas with my parents, sister, and sister’s boyfriend, and finally Christmas with the Roth family on January 1. I know that the 28th the Brenneman side is coming over for supper, but I think that’s more of a welcome back gathering instead of Christmas.

I had planned to get up around 9 to eat breakfast with everybody and make sure that things were ready to go when we had to leave. Well, at 9 Adeline’s aunt showed up to help us finish clearing stuff away. So before noon we had all the tables and chairs folded (and table cloths obviously, as well as the decorations on the tables cleared off), the rest of the dishes rinsed and put in their respective buckets/trays, and the main floor vacuumed and mopped. Whew. Then it was off to Adeline’s aunt’s (Sybille’s sister) house for the Duchateau Christmas. This wasn’t as overwhelming because there weren’t as many people for one, and secondly I’d seen everyone there at least once before. I ended up sitting at a table with Adeline’s cousin Coralie and her husband. They’re the one’s that got married in May. I guess the read my blog post on the wedding and thought it was neat to see their wedding from a Canadian point of view!

Greg didn’t come because he wasn’t feeling well, but we took his car. His new car he got in August. His new car that has power seats (this I discovered when trying to straighten the back and move the seat forward) and a built-in GPS. It’s a nice car. There’s lots of room; enough that the boys can’t touch the back of the front seats with their feet!

Of course all the kids we all over the chips before lunch and left the veggies alone. Sylvain made a grab for a carrot, but I stopped him. I took one and let him take a bite. This resulted in a lot of drool. Plus he only has front teeth so after he bit off his morsel it would have been challenging to chew the rest. Hence the drool. Then he moved on to the chip/cracker type snacks. There was one kind that had processed cheese inside, those were easy for him to eat. Of course he would try to take more than one at a time or he’d put his hand in the dish and move it around. He took one of the other snack items (I don’t actually know what it was), but he wasn’t having much luck with it. This one was as easy to chew. It wasn’t going anywhere, it just caused him to drool even more all down his shirt. So I took it out of his mouth and threw it out. Then we took him upstairs for his nap and what do I find in his mouth? Yes, another one of the hard to chew morsels. This time he managed to get somewhere with it and by the time he was all ready to go down it was gone. At one point (before all this excitement) I was sitting on the one end of the couch and Sylvain was just doing what he does best; walking around and looking at everything and everyone. Then he started coming in my direction and once he noticed me he picked up the pace a bit and grabbed my hand. He held on to it for a while. This was shortly after we got there, so maybe he was a little overwhelmed with all the people and I was someone familiar and safe. Or maybe I’m just telling myself that to make me feel special. It does make sense though, I do live and spend a lot of time with him.

Shortly after that he became very independent. I have to get all the hugs and kisses I can out of him and Bastien before I leave! I told that to Bastien when he wouldn’t give me a hug. Then he gave me a hug. 😀 This family gather also included a gift exchange. Adeline’s aunt didn’t know I was still going to be here so I wasn’t included (I think that’s what happened), but that’s ok. So I wasn’t expecting anything. But her aunt gave me a really nice picture frame. The glass is on a mini easel type thing so with a picture in there it mimics a painting. I really like it. She didn’t have to get me anything, but it was definitely very nice of her. Everybody in this family and the other have all been so welcoming. Adeline said tonight that one thing about the huge De Coster family is that if you find yourself alone in a corner or something you have to go and find someone to talk to. If you don’t, you’ll stay alone. This isn’t because they’re not nice, it’s because with so many people it’s impossible to tell who is socializing and who isn’t. Who may be moping in a corner and who is the life of the party. So if you’re moping you’ll stay that way unless you do something about it. I wasn’t moping yesterday, and I didn’t feel shunned, she just made that comment as a matter of fact. It makes total sense.

I also tried something new today. Cheese. Ha, ha, not just any cheese. A really strong cheese. A very strong cheese. I don’t actually know how to spell the name, but I’m going to do it phonetically, at least phonetically the way I heard it: Rochfort. In French fort is strong. I tried the tiniest bit and it definitely tops my list of things I never want to eat again. Coming in 2nd is French onion soup, but that’s another story. I don’t really know how to describe this cheese. I think I’ve tried my best to block the taste from my memory. But now I can say I’ve tried it. Valerie told me that a lot of people buy this cheese at the beginning of winter as a natural defence for their immune system. I think she said it has some penicillin type elements or something. I don’t think I was paying very close attention; I was still trying to get the taste out of my mouth! But there you have it. It’s all what you’re used to, what you’ve grown up with. Which is why what Adeline tells Bastien at every meal (you can’t say you don’t like something if you’ve never tried it) is very sound advice. And just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s bad or disgusting. It’s just different. I can emphatically say that I do not like it and will never willingly (or unwillingly if I can help it) eat it again, but I will do my best to not say bad things about it other than that I don’t like it. This is something I’ve always tried to do and realize, but it has become more important to me since spending the year here to make sure I’m as diplomatic as possible when comparing or dealing with cultural differences. When it comes to food or other cultural stuff, there’s no right or wrong, good or bad, there’s just differences. What you’re used to and what’s new. I think any culturally new experience (or any new experience for that matter) will be more enjoyable if everyone were to keep that in mind. I guess this can be a little tricky when religion plays a very important role in culture. Hmmm. Well for the most part it works. Moving on…

I think the kids all had fun with the gifts. They especially liked little cousin Juliet’s one present. Especially Bastien, Clémence, and Sylvain. Especially Sylvain. You put a little ball in a whole in the top and it slides down coloured planks and goes through holes to go down either side of the main board before ending by ringing a little bell at the bottom. Neither boy had much of a nap. They slept for a little bit (maybe 20 minutes) in the car (it was an hour ride), but not at the house at all. They slept for about half, maybe a little more, of the ride home, and both were ready for bed when we arrived. When Sylvain gets really tired he’ll cry at anything. He’ll fall on his bum, or knees, and he cries like he just cracked his skull open. Or something else really minor. It’s not hard to handle though because the solution is simple; give him his bottle and put him to bed. Being tired and hungry are relatively easy for us to fix. Once he had his bottle he hardly made a peep. Putting him down is simple as well. He might spend a while talking to himself, but he rarely ever cries when you leave. Unless it’s the morning and he wants out of his crib. Then if I come into his room, but have to leave again to get him some clothes he’s not happy. I’m spoiled. If I ever have kids I won’t be surprised if they’re not as easy-going as Sylvain.

Tonight I put all the chairs back on their cart type contraption (which we actually used as a coat rack because the delivery guy forgot it because to get it out-of-the-way Jean put it in the coat room…or maybe it was left on purpose so we could put the chairs away :P), and gathered all the buckets of plates in the toy room with the tables and chairs. After getting Sylvain in bed (Greg was reading Bastien his nightly story) Adeline helped me transfer the cups and glasses and the cutlery. Now when mister delivery guy comes tomorrow everything is all right there and should be easy to load up. Hopefully he comes in the morning like he said he would. I have a lot of stuff to do this week and not all of it is at the house. 😛 My current To Do List is at 13 items and possible counting. And it really is all stuff I have to do this week while I have free time. It has to be done before I leave and I don’t know how much time I’ll have this weekend! #1 on my list: To bed!


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Leave a comment


  1. adeline

     /  December 20, 2011

    to know about the Cheese

  2. Seems like multiple celebrations is the thing to do. I remember when we only had one Christmas celebration. Those days are far behind me!

    • We’ve always had 3 I guess. Christmas Eve with my Dad’s family, Christmas day just my parents and sister and some years friends or family might stop by. We sit in our pjs all day eating finger foods (M&M Meats meatballs!), watching movies, and playing games. We literally spend all day doing this. Christmas with my Mom’s family went from Boxing Day alternating with other random days to now being the Sunday before Christmas. I love the tradition and continuity of the holidays. ^_^ I always know what to expect! Plus, in between Christmas and New Year’s my Dad’s side does a family bowling day. At least we have in the past.


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