Sunday, 4 January 2009

Christmas Canapés at Leigné-les-Bois

We had a wonderful evening with our Language Group just before the week of Nöel. Since September, we have met together with others in our commune and whilst we have learned French, they have learned English.
We decided to give what we thought would be a surprise party but the other 14 people in the group arrived thinking they were going to give us a surprise! We made toasted canapes with home-made liver paté (mousse), goats cheese, salmon, capers, olives and tomatoes and set them upon a silver platter. We also made tiny weeny mince pies with my home-made vegetarian mincemeat, now 4 years mature, and of course my own pastry!Captain S thought they would not like these but they did!!! Well of course they are so much better than the LARGE English variety of mince pies! We explained that once these interesting pastries would have contained meat!
We had organised the evening around the theme of "Christmas Crackers". We printed out an A4 sheet about the history and invention of the Christmas Cracker. This was pertinent to us, as the Tom Smith Christmas Cracker factory had existed in Norwich, England until quite recently, and because we still have family connections with Norwich. Tom Smith's idea had emerged from Paris, France where he bought bonbons in a twist of paper. We had bought some Boots Crackers, which it turned out were of excellent quality.

We arrived early and laid the table with a white cloth, red serviettes, little disposable Christmas plates (ages old from Woolworth's, England), with a christmas tree design, plastic glasses, the canapés, bubbly, candles and other Christmas decorations. Then to OUR SURPRISE our friends brought real glasses, Champagne and Vouvray, chocolates and biscuits and we had such a marvellous excellent feast and of course different type of toasts!
First of all we made everyone work to read our English text about the Crackers. Then we showed them how to pull the crackers. Everyone seemed to enjoy this bit! Oh what fun as everyone searched for the paper hats, the mottoes and the surprise gifts after the bangs and hilarity.

Then to our surprise we were presented with three large wrapped parcels. On opening these and discovering the excellent wines and Champagne, Sweetpea was so moved and so touched she started to cry, as his her wont, but had to adapt her tears into laughter as we went around the group, thanking each and everyone with bisous (kisses). Then Huguette was thanked as she received a beautiful orchid plant. I was feeling emotionally confused and so very happy. I remember thinking that France has given me so very much pleasure in my life between the difficulties of adopting a new country and that I/We have received so much in friendship from people we hardly know and possibly more gratitude and kindness in a short space of time than for Sweetpea's 23 years service to one school. It was for that recognition that she cried!

What a wonderful evening! It was all so relaxed. It has been a tremendous privilege to give to others and we have received so much pleasure from our voluntary efforts. We have tried to make it fun for them, without being too teacherly, and we realise they have valued our efforts.
Thankyou to the Language Group for the superb bottles of red and white French wines and champagne.
Thankyou to Huguette for teaching us French, for French translation and her expertise in speaking and teaching English.
Thankyou to everyone in the group for making the evenings a joy to attend.
We hope they all learn as much as we learn and maybe more!

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