A Very Musical Christmas

First I need to mention something that happened at the end of the night so I don’t forget. We’re almost home. In the car is Adeline, me, and the boys. Bastien is sleeping, but because he’s in just a booster seat he’s fallen across into the middle (instead of sleeping against the door). Sylvain…is not asleep. When  we finally get home Adeline notices a soother in his mouth and one in his lap. So he either dropped his or took it out on purpose and grabbed Bastien’s from him mouth and started using it. Crazy kid!

Speaking of Sylvain, he had a rough day. I’ve never heard him cry so much. He did have some really good moments though and I was able to catch some on film. I got some pics of them in my suitcase. They both fit! I had most of my clothes in my vacuum seal bag before dumping them all out because I wanted to sort through them and re-fold everything. I’ve decided to do some purging. You know how they say that if you haven’t worn something in a year to get rid of it because you won’t wear it? Well, I’m doing some of that. I brought with me 3 pairs of jeans. 1 I never wear and might have only worn once while here simply because I was short on pants that day. Donate! My other 2 pairs are too worn in places for me to wear. Now, between my Grandmothers we could patch these up and fix them, but I’m not going to for 3 reasons: 1) I bought them both for $15 2) my suitcases aren’t getting any bigger and my spacial reckoning/visualization is horrible = I think I have more stuff than room and 3) they’re too big. I was constantly pulling them up. And since they’re those handy (but somewhat impractical) pull-up, stretchy types there are no belt loops. My Mom brought a new pair for me this summer. I wear them now, although by all accounts they shouldn’t fit because they’re way smaller than the other ones. It’s all because of the stretch. 😛 So I’m throwing those 2 pairs out. The pair of dress pants I brought (that I wore once) are way too big and look much to sloppy to be dressy…donate! There are a few other items that I’m going to donate that I didn’t pay that much for so I don’t feel anxious about it. Also, since all of my slippers I brought (including the 2 pairs Grandma Roth made me) are all ripped and are kind of useless so they’re being tossed. I’m doing everything I can to create space. I’m not sure if it’s going to work. Which means I might have to mail stuff after all. Maybe I’m jumping the gun a little. I’ll get back to you on that.

So tonight we went to Sybille’s for Christmas. It was a small affair in comparison to the other Christmases we’ve had. All the kids are sick. Actually, I think it was the girls who gave the boys their coughs ;). And of course there was champagne! It will be strange going to a family gathering and not having a bit of bubbly. After the appetizers (I had one with mushrooms, ham, and a creamy cheese with a garnish, the name of which I don’t know in English and can’t spell in French) we opened presents. I was sort of expecting one from Jean because he asked me if I had replaced my straightener yet (did I mention in broke? That’s another I might as well leave behind since it doesn’t work). I did, in fact, get a straightener. It has a rolling barrel and is a wide one which will take a little getting used to because my old one was very thin. It says it’s a 5-1 on the box – it can straighten, volumize, curl, shape the tips, and add softness and shine (it has removable combs). This is really good advertising, especially for someone who isn’t familiar with straighteners. You can do all these things with any straightener if you know or develop the techniques. But certain things work better with some than others and I already tried this one out and it can curl just like a curling iron! Plus it straightens really well too. You can change the direction the barrel rotates too. The first time I used it I startled myself – the rotating barrel makes a noise. If you put it in the centre it doesn’t rotate and therefore doesn’t make noise, but from what I’ve found you get a better result if it rotates. For Jean I got a cook book. Not just any cook book mind you, but one with around 300 recipes from around the world. He liked it a lot. I’m glad. I’m horrible and choosing gifts for people.

From Aurore and Jeff (an unexpected gift) I also got a cook book. A Belgian cook book. It has a Waterzooi recipe in it (handy!) that uses shrimp (which I don’t like), but I can always just substitute it with craw-fish. It also has the chicken version. It has everything from drinks to desserts. It serves 3 purposes – gives me even more of a reason to cook, will help me share my time in Belgium with others through food, and is in French so will help me keep up with it. I’ll definitely have to carefully read through each recipe I undertake before I even think about starting it. Another unexpected gift came from Charles. It’s an easy arrangement piano book of 12 hit songs from Adele. I was so excited! I always love getting new music (I won’t lie and say I was getting a bit tired of playing the stuff from the books I have with me) and it will be fun to learn these songs. Unfortunately I forgot Freddy, so no picture with Charles. THANK YOU EVERYONE!

Bastien, among other things, got a Spiderman costume, complete with muscles. Hilariously adorable. Him and Clémence each got a light up globe and were both shown where Belgium is and where Canada is. Jean was fiddling around on the piano and Maëline started dancing. Jean then started playing – oh my goodness…I should know this, but I can’t remember what it was! – something snappy and she continued dancing. Of course everyone got out their cameras and started filming. We also took a group photo. Well, many. The first set Charles didn’t quite make it in time, but it took maybe almost 10 before it stopped. So we all did a slightly different pose for each flash. That was started by Charles who was sort of half on the ground doing model poses. The second set was a little more serious, but with no fewer smiles.

Dinner was about as different from a Brenneman and Roth traditional Christmas dinner as you can get. There was salad – not too different – but then there was salmon (fresh, but not cooked) and lobster…from Nova Scotia! I had some lobster – Dad, Lisa, you would be proud. There was also Foie Gras (and faux gras, but that was on one of the appetizers) which I of course did not partake in. Dessert was a vanilla log cake with chocolate icing and a raspberry log cake. After eating we all (well almost all) participated in a little show. This year it was a little more planned, but I guess normally it’s more random. Everyone in the family is really musical and sang in choirs growing up so they’ll break out in 4-part harmony around the dinner table. I got to participate but realized that I sing very quietly. At least when I’m not totally confidant in what I’m singing. And with choir stuff, well in university I wasn’t the loudest and there was always way too many loud sopranos so I always sang softly (I also don’t overtax my voice that way) and I was doing that tonight. Problem was I was the only one on my part! Aurore joined me for the 2nd time. I know the song, but I still messed it up. We sang ‘I Will Follow Him’ from Sister Act. They had me sing the wailing solo part of that red-headed almost nun. Yeah, didn’t work too well. I don’t sing gospel. Not that I don’t love it and wish I could, but it’s just not where my talents lie. I might sing like that (or try to) and try different things, different styles when I’m alone (or in the shower because everything sounds better in there – it’s the steam and the acoustics), but not for other people. So I tried and warmed up to it a bit, but it was still borderline horrible. 😀 Everyone else sounded awesome though!

Sybille also bought – as a family gift – a sort of piano carpet. Basically think of a smaller (and fold-able) version of that huge keyboard on the floor in that mall in that Tom Hanks movie that was from the 80s or 90s (:P). Jean-Go, Charles, and Adeline played a version of that duet that everybody knows how to play (there are so many variations), but not many people actually know what it’s called (like me). It was hilarious! I have it on video. Greg says it should go on YouTube. They did it a second time and Greg filmed it so I don’t know if he’s going to put it up or not. I’m going to let them copy my pictures and videos so they can put it up later if they want. They did a great job and were very entertaining.

This was actually the last night I’m going to see all of them minus Jean and Val Ou. Jean’s coming with us to the airport on Tuesday and since we’re leaving at 6am he’s going to stay over Monday night so Valerie’s going to come over as well. And this time the boys are coming. Adeline was insistent. I’m glad. She said they didn’t come pick me up because they didn’t know me, but they’ll want to say goodbye (not to mention I’ll want to!). I feel like this post has actually been very vague and yet it’s over 1700 words…

I’m almost positive there was something else I wanted to say but we all know that I’ve forgotten it by now. Well, since it’s almost 2:30am it is now Christmas Eve day for me. For all you back home we’ll be sharing something in common that doesn’t make me happy – a green Christmas. I’m ok with that here because it’s normal, I just wanted snow for when I got home ;).


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