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Friday, December 14, 2012

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Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Hi Kristin,
Sweet story and great photo of the trees covered in snow. We cut our own tree a few weekends ago but are waiting until the kids get home to decorate it. Good luck with the renovations.

Carol M. Saldeen

Hi Kristin,
Enjoying your videos. Have you thought about showing your viewers your drive to town? You could show us your nearest shopping places. Show us around on a market day. Take us on a walk from the nearest road and walk towards your new home.
Take us a walk around your house,telling us about your plans and periodically pan the camera in such a way that we can see the views.
Carol-Deltona,FL

Maureen

Lovely story, Kristi, thank you.....What tree are you having this year? And did I miss one about your latest surgery? Hope it was all OK. Hope your heating comes on soooon!

Jim Boring

Kristi,
Your story was a delight. Inspired me to send you my somewhat grittier Chicago version. Enjoy.
Jim


The Christmas Tree

After the fight and my father’s decision that
“God damn it, we just won’t have a tree at all,” I put on my coat and boots and went out to find a tree.

It was snowing hard and cold,
the sidewalks piled with unshoveled snow,
the occasional footprints already filled ankle deep, only tire tracks in the street gave a path into the blizzard. I walked the tightrope of ruts.

It is two city blocks from Berteau to Irving Park, two more to the Chicago River, over the bridge it is three to California, eight to Kedzie, another eight to Elston, four more to the Farmer’s Market where they sold Christmas trees.

My father was a stubborn man,
when he was angry even more so –
he had made a decision and he had to stick with it. His rage had flared to my own –
it drove me as far as the river.

But at the top of the bridge the vista over the snowscape that was ordinarily a fetid city dump muffled anger the way it muted the sounds of the city.

Good King Wenceslas looked out, I thought,
on the feast of Stephen, when the snow
lay round about, deep and crisp and even.
The song became my marching cadence.

Except for the freezing and the quiet death
nothing is so beautiful as a snowstorm in the city – the buried cars hunched burrowed animals, the streetlamps receding into infinity, aureoles of swirling snow and softened light.

I trudged past the used car lots
where I used a frozen steel pad
to clean rusted bumpers,
the corner grocery where I stocked
shelves with Gold Dust Twins, fed
the incinerator trash, killed roaches
with my thumb, past the laundry factory
where the laughing women worked,
past Belmont Rug Cleaners where the man
with the hole in his throat lifted
his decorous flap and blew us smoke rings.

The snow fell and kept falling,
sweat froze in my hair, tears froze,
my boots clacked their buckles like flattened sleigh bells; and all the time my father was with me, saying to me what he could not saying what I cannot say now –
what is understood without saying.

There aren’t many trees to choose from
late on Christmas Eve and those that remain
have obvious shortcomings – missing branches, lopsided shapes, twisted trunks – but there was one broken-nosed beauty left and I got it at a bargain from a man steaming off the heat of his shed, anxious to get back to his Muscatel.

The walk back was longer than the walk out – dragging the tree behind me through the deepening snow determined to efface the city once and for all. The tree whispered to me all the way home – Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Stephen.

At home my father said nothing,
brought out the saw and the tree stand,
and while we set up the tree in a puddle of needles we forgave each other without saying so.

Jim Boring

Deborah Carter

Very apt story for this time of year! We all come at situations with our own experiences and different expectations, each expecting the other knows what we want. It could be the colouring of the experience is from a male/female or french/american tradition or just different personalities - a men are from Mars, women from Venus difference. The important thing is that the whole point of putting up a Christmas tree is the symbolic reminder of what this season is about. Forgiveness, love and peace. The situation turned around and left happiness in its place. A modern Christmas story, je crois! Thanks for sharing!

Ellen Cassilly

Kristin,
I'd love to make some suggestions on your home. I'm a friend of Corey's in the state who happens to be an architect. Might you have a rough sketch of a floor plan? What's on the other side of the door in the picture? What's at the top of the stairs?
Sweet Sapin de Noel story. Ellen

Mary

Video? Oui!

susan standke

Video? Oui....moi aussi !!! susan

Pat N.

Kristin, this is just an idea for your renovation project. Either you or an artist can use the wall separating your garage and the steps to the kitchen garden to paint a mural (Trompe l'oeil style). Here is a link to an artist's website for some great examples. http://www.yvesart.com/Galery6B.php#trellis. Yves Lantier was born in Quebec, Canada
Check out his website. I'll be most happy to assist and do the cleanup -- IN PERSON! I will be in Provence for 2 weeks in March, 2013.

Pat N. - St. Louis, Missouri USA

Pat N.

Another idea for your renovation project: Plant some ivy or climbing vine (that loves the shade) at the base of the wall with the door leading to the kitchen. Use a decorative trellis on that wall so the vines can cling to it. I would probably paint the wood trellis green for visual appeal.

Pat N. - St. Louis, Missouri USA

Suzanne Codi

OK, Ktisti, after that sapin story, we NEED to see a pic of your ( charlie brown? ) tree!!!
And you may remember that Charlie is a contractor used to renovating different spaces ( our school that jean-Marc saw) and a church among others. So if any questions arise, please don't hesitate to ask, and can't wait to see the videos, so glad you're documenting the renovation!

Shannon, Alexandria, VA

With every post, you have become an even greater creative writer!! Thanks for sharing your intimate stories with such thoughtful, detailed description. I truly feel like I was in the room watching the scene unfold. :)

dave

That empty space in the photo would make a nice studio/family room. I would put a real roof on it (flat) with a couple of skylights and sod the rest. Glass in the missing wall and pour a concrete slab on the inside that has radiant heat. What direction does it face?

Pat Cargill

Oh my, Jim Boring, what a poignant Christmas story, familiar to many as a variation on the theme of loving, but often difficult, relationships.  We noted the second anniversary of my Mother's death yesterday, and remembrances were sweet, but also included the reality of her difficult personality.  What is lovely now is that the strongest feeling in thinking of her is overwhelming appreciation for her and all she did for us, alone, when abandoned by our father.  She was a strong and determined person who exemplified the strength one can summon when needed.  She was also beautiful and glamorous and in later years I called her The Queen-- she agreed!   Cheers to all parents, present and absent!  

And cheers of encouragement to you, Kristi, and family as you work through the transformation of your new home.  "...all is coming." 

p.s.  I have gone to (an after-holiday sale) turquoise tinsel Christmas tree à   la 50's style.  Far out!   

Nancy,                     Cambridge

I wonder if this little tree-since it was artificial- was carefully saved and packed away for another year...did it make the move to the new house? We use the same decorations year after year, and is fun to re-visit them annually. Enjoy this season in your new home whether everything is new or used. No snow yet here...

Marilyn Charlotte NC

Ah, this story takes me back many years to the Christmas my ever-so-frugal husband brought home what I called the "Charlie Brown Tree". It was so scrawny one could see right through it. After a knockdown dragout argument, he returned that tree and brought home a beautiful potted tree that we later planted in the back yard. That way everyone was happy. By the way, I never stopped teasing him about the Charlie Brown tree.

Dave Navarrre

The sports club to which I belong helps out at a Christmas tree lot (run by another charitable club) and we like to say that it's not Christmas until you work at the lot. It simply so wonderful to help people find their tree that you can't help but get into the spirit. I even handle the scheduling of our volunteers. That said, we have a beautiful fake tree (8' tall) that we pull out of our garage each year....

Alice Freeman

A video would be wonderful. Who doesn't love a vicarious trip through the sunny south of France?

Marjorie Wilde

The space under the stairs is screaming for a lovely table and chairs for casual dining, especially since the door leads to the kitchen! We rented a house in the Lubéron for a summer and there was a similar space, decorated in that manner. There were also bicycles against the walls,with French market baskets hanging above them for trips to the local marché. Lovely plants were beautifully placed all along this charming patio.

Alyssa Ross Eppich

Video-oui! Tour, bien sur! Thank you for inviting me, Kristin et Jpyeux Noel dans la nouvelle maison!

Betty

Hi Kristie: What if you recorded one of your videos speaking in french! I've been studying french for a few years and am far from fluent! I'm betting others on this site struggle as well - so it's not like we would expect you to be flawless. In fact it could be quite inspiring.
Happy Holidays.

Bruce in northwest Connecticut

Reading the beginning of this story, I thought, "Aw, jeez — he bought another terrible tree again this year? When will he learn?" I didn't realize this was a reprint of the same story until after I'd finished, scrolled down, and saw Kristin's link to the original version. Silly mel

anne wirth

Vines and some potted plants would do wonders.
Would love to see a video of your home.Make sure you include the family and the dogs.

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth.

Barbara

I will not look for errors, but only get caught up in the story itself. The family dynamics all unfolded to the 'idea' of Christmas - which is to me the reason for the season as they say.

That God LOVED us all so much that He gave His only Son.

And THAT is what I truly visualized from this story. All four people in one family with different perspectives coming together in LOVE. Merry Christmas dear Kristin!

Kimberley Brody

/Users/kimberley/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Masters/2012/12/14/20121214-075046/IMG_5421.JPG

Dear Kristin,

Not sure if you can see our petit sapin, but as we are in Paris, we have to keep things small - if you are surrounded by loved ones, all is well...

Happy Holidays,

Warmly,

Kimberley

Martine NYC

Such true and great stories from Kristin and Jim. I remember shopping for Christmas trees in San Francisco as a kid in the sixties. They mostly came with fake snow in white, baby pink, or baby blue. Or "natural". One person's dreadful is another person's wondrous!

judi dunn

... Kristin.. every family has a "Charlie Brown' Christmas tree story.... ours was when we lived in Paris. I had shipped some 'choice ' ornaments from the states so we would be sure to have a nostalgic tree and then add some new French ones! I waited until the 23rd, thinking the trees would become lot cheaper in our 'voisin', but I was oh so wrong! The good ones were long gone and only the 'Charlie Browns' were left. I relented and bought the best I could find, though it was truly pitiful looking. I vowed that I could make it beautiful.. my own ugly duckling! I had to laugh to keep from weeping when I had it set up in our salon... so forlorn and scraggly looking and barely 6 feet tall! Plenty of spaces to be filled in! I put our own ornaments on the tree and felt better at once. I had bought 'choses des Noel' all along during the year and put those on as well. It was starting to take on a life of its own! It was beginning to look better the more I put things on it. My husband and son that evening said they loved the tree because it was such a great combo of French-American beauty! I eventually fleshed it out with more gee-gaws, which I have to this day! I think we loved that little tree more than any we ever had.. it had become our Christmas swan! Judi from Tallahassee

patricia

Lovely story! I enjoy reading all of them so much. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for the ideas for future videos. Great ideas!

Maureen, we still do not have a tree! Will work on that this weekend. 

Jim - so many of us can relate to your wonderfully-told story of forgiveness. Thank you for sharing.


Deborah, really enjoyed your note about perspective!

Ellen, we do not have that sketch yet. Eventually, I hope to show all of the rooms...

Dave, you are reading our minds! Need to look up radiant heat. Thanks!


Nancy, it was enjoyed for years, that litte sapin. Only we gave the little tree up during our recent move (I think... )

Bruce, haha! Je tai eu! (and there should be an apostrophe in the previous sentence, but it will not show up when I post via email...


...and aw, Judi--loved your story too!


Happy weekend to all and thanks again for your comments and helpful ideas.


xoxo, Kristi

Julie Farrar

What a wonderful story. I remember well all the years that my husband and I argued all through the season. I, too, wanted a complicated Christmas tree/decorations/treats just like my Mom did every year. I would become so stressed out and would spend Christmas morning sitting on the couch, pouting, because no one was acknowledging that I had put together the most wonderful holiday on the planet. It took many years to realize that I went so crazy about the holiday because I really was missing my Mom and thought that doing everything just as she did would bring her back to me. Now I have certain touches and items I always use when decorating at Christmas and make two, maybe three, kinds of her cookies instead of every Christmas treat in her old recipe box. She's still there with me and we are all more relaxed with the season.

Hampton

How absolutely funny. Just as I was reading the blog my friend from Nice skyped me and I read it to him...hahaha--a second hand fake tree..oh my nerves! No real trees...sorry you have no heat in your house. Cheap way to heat. Buy 2 50 gallon oil drums. cut dorr in one and hinge it. cut hole in top.. cut hole in bottom of 2nd drum. attach flue pipe then attach flue pipe to top drum and put coal in bottom and voila heat.. forgot the stand. this is what they do to heat cabins in Maine..

Julia - Falling Off Bicycles

I can relate to having differing ideas about the Christmas tree. My Dutchman would have bought something knee-high just a handful of days before Christmas, but I wanted it to be glowing in front of our Amsterdam Singel apartment window by December 1. He eventually came around to the idea of a more "complicated" Christmas tree plan and loved it.

P.S. Love the photo!

Mary Lou Thomas

You lead a fascinating life in France with your move to a new part of France. I am enjoying your "word-a-day" emails and your books. I spent a year in France a long time ago (1960-61) and dearly loved it. I taught French for many years and had such fun with it. Looking forward to the videos and comments on your remodeling.
Thanks for your "Word-a-Day" and for sharing your life. Your photos are lovely and I have painted a few of them, especially the ones of the coast, Keep sharing. Your writing is delightful.

Bill Facker

Today is December 14th ... On Thanksgiving Day we set up our little, artificial, 4 foot tall white Christmas Tree .. complete with lights already attached. It was an easy task, just stick the top inside the bottom and plug it in a wall socket. On that tree hang family memories and heirlooms. In the background, outside our windows, it is beautiful and green. Plumeria trees, mango trees, a guava tree with fruit, and more natural wonders than one can imagine ... especially one who started life in the mountains and always equated Christmas with snow and frigid temperatures...but that reality was many years ago. This morning I took my coffee, walked around our yard, and enjoyed hundreds of our "babies" ... orchids blooming, giving their beauty for free... giving their beauty whether deserved or not. I wandered around the yard, taking it all in, talking to the cats in our morning ritual, then returned to the house for a second cup of coffee. Our little white Christmas Tree greeted me, twinkling & happy, representing everything beautiful in our world.

A.Moreau

That is the meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown.

Lin Powell

Many a family argument revolved around our Christmas tree. I longed for help with the decorating, but that always ended with the tree nearly being thrown out the window. My husband just couldn't see the point of a live tree and hated decorating. I now put loose branches in our large copper bucket and decorate it quickly with my favorite lights and memorable trinkets. Your story will become one of your families Christmas memories.
I hope you will not drop your writing in exchange for the videos. I always prefer reading to watching, altho I may be in the minority.

Vicki, San Francisco Bay area

Kristi, I eagerly await the home renovation videos and have subscribed to your YouTube channel. We are just finishing up a 5 year renovation/addition to our home and it's so great to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There were times in the midst of it all I had my doubts of it's completion! Bon courage! Love the stairs leading to the kitchen garden!
Lovely story evoking the true meaning of Christmas. When my husband and I were first married (30 years ago) we discovered we had different traditions surrounding Christmas, one of them being what kind of tree we wanted. Our way of conflict resolution has been to alternate choosing the tree every other year. This year is his year to choose. As I write this I am gazing out at his choice, festively decorated. What I once thought of as unattractive is now beautiful to my eyes! I've been transformed ~ another meaning of the spirit of Christmas.

Seattle

I enjoyed your story, but encourage you not to distress about being sans garbage disposal. Here in the US, you would be a very "green" homemaker. With an increasing interest to compost all food wastes, the garbage disposal has become unnecessary.

Lourinda Bray

When I was 13, I was sent to a Swiss boarding school, oh, so many miles away foam my home in Southern California. I was homesick most of the time, longing for life as it had been. My parents and sister (mother and Judith were touring Europe for the year) picked me up at school in mid December and Daddy drove us into the Alps to Davos. We arrived in the vicinity of the resort in the early evening, driving through a wooded are, and Daddy stopped the car, telling me to get out and take the flashlight with me. Judith starts grumbling about the cold and mother just sat there smiling in her sweet way. Daddy and I walked into the woods, through the snow drifts with flakes swirling up under our feet. He stopped at a small fir tree - perhaps 3' tall - pulled out his pocket knife, and whittled the truck til he cut it through. We piled it and me back into the Citroen with Judith still grumbling and proceeded to the hotel.

Mother and Daddy set the little tree up on the desk in our room, where it looked so forlorn with just it's needles for decorations. When I awoke in the morning the little tree was covered in ornaments mother had been making for months after Judith went to sleep. There were tiny tissue paper netting walnut bags like my Grandmother used to make, a garland made of bits of Christmas paper wrapped around silver clip hair curlers and strung together, red spotted cotton batting mushrooms.and glazed and decorated gingerbread cookies hanging from ribbons. She'd also found some tinsel (stolen from the restaurant tree, I think.) She even had managed to craft a star topper from foil paper.

It was wonderful Christmas made so by the efforts of my parents. A
simple tree covered in simple homemade ornaments and tinsel, and glowing with love.

Bill in St. Paul

It sounds like all the little tree needed was a little love provided by Jackie and Max (and JM, too).

Natalia

Our dear Kristi,
This is such a wonderful story that I can feel tears sting my eyes. Once again you have shown us what in life is really important, and given us a sweet insight into the real meaning of Christmas (and what
matters in the giving of gifts).
THANK YOU!!!!
Love, Natalia XO

Laura Isenstein

Kristin,

What a beautiy.ful story about what's really important and how the smallest actions of our loved ones can reclaim the moment and help us see things differently,

Millie

I knew I had read this. But it was wonderful to read it again. You made me feel I was there, watching the scene unfold. Great writing, Kristin!

Judi

My post is all about me today because I am just so happy! I'm writing from MS. We celebrated the 12th day of Christmas, (my birthday) with my husband & I flying from CA to MS to see our daughter. Tomorrow she is receiving her PhD in Curriculum Development and right after that she is getting married. We love Curtis and his daughter Julia, and are very blessed to be celebrating this season with our daughter's 'new family.' We are then all going to Rome for Christmas and even have arranged a Papal Audience. We are truly blessed this season with many, many 'things' to be thankful for, most are intangible and those are the best kinds of gifts - love and family (of course getting to go to Rome is not too bad, either!) I'm a very lucky woman.

I loved your petit sapin story the first time I read it and I enjoyed it all over again today! I guess we have to keep our hearts open, who knows what joy might float in!

Meanwhile, I really like those ideas about some tromp l'oeil and some vines in the 'garage' area - indoor pots for those delicate shade only plants, maybe a fountain to hear on your way up the stairs. Videos would be great. I 'm making just a photobook of our kitchen remodel - it's been fun to look back and see how much changed, how much work was done, and to see the final product! A video would have been even better -we would enjoy seeing every step of your renovation!

Have a joyous Christmas, with or without un petit sapin! XXOO Judi

Rob Tonkinson

I'd turn the space into a mudroom/storage area for work clothes, boots, etc. But do it up nice with bins or closets for storage, a bench for sitting . . ..

Irene Tanedo

Very delightful, touching and sweet story..i was moved to tears when you had a change of heart upon hearing your 2 kids marvel at the sapin, also when both your eyes and those of JM were locked at that particular moment when both of you dashed to switch the lights.. we may have squabbles but at the end of the day everything is just forgiven and forgotten..for this is waht Christmas is all about. Happy week-end to all!

joie in carmel

Loved the story, however there is something you should know. First, Jean-Marc is a man and you are a woman. He saw a tree and did his job in bringing one home to you. You saw a childhood memory. So next year, you go get the tree. It is as with the garden and renovation. He sees a tractor(man thing), you want to see all your the flowers and veggies flourishing. There is just a difference. But it is when those two differences come together that the sun warms the soul, the stars are out every night and all is right in the world.

Now about the renovation. Someone mentioned painting on the inside of it....wonderful idea, and I am sure your mother would love to do it for you. A part of her forever in France. Can't wait to see more.
Now go cut some boughs and make a wreath for the front door and then post a photo of it!

Jan R.

Great story today, Kristin. We're in our 7th year of renovating an old house, bit by bit, taking it slow. Sometimes it seems it will never end, but when I look at the difference we have made, and how we have transformed a formerly unloved and neglected house, I know it has been worth all the trouble. As to your space at the foot of the stairs, I see a mudroom, storage (garden tools for the veggie garden above?) and pantry. An old wooden table and chairs in the center would finish it off and give you a place to set stuff down before putting it away or to take off muddy boots. Not very romantic, but would sure be very useful, especially if, like us, you're a ways from the supermarket. A big pantry was one of my first renovations and I've never regretted it. Happy Holidays and best wishes to you for good health and happiness in the coming year. cheers!

JULES GREER - PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO

WOW !!! JIM BORING !!!!

YOU HAVE TAKEN MY BREATH AWAY - I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR STORY....

GOD BLESS YOU & MERRY CHRISTMAS

XOXO

JULES

Sandy Vann

Joyeux Noel Kristin and family and all. What a lovely, heart warming story to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas...
the beauty in simplicity, peace and love of family.

Bon chance with the renovations. Fabulous suggestions pouring in. Love the idea of Jules painting a wall or two with her sunny, bright flair for color. Hope you are warm and wish you a truly happy Christmas.


Holly

We also experienced a downsized Xmas tree this year. My husband and I are both having health problems that prevent us from hoisting a real live evergreen monster into our low-ceilinged living room. I went online and bought 3 little styrofoam cones from Amazon. I got some tinsel ropes and balls from K Mart and some straight pins for sticking it all together. The result are 3 perfect mini Xmas trees, in 3 separate color schemes that are just gorgeous. After the holiday I will wrap them in a bag and box and put them in our attic. No heavy lifting of trees, big boxes or tangled light swags. So simple! And they really do look lovely! As we age we are finding there are so many things, including beloved traditions, we just don't need anymore. Our simple little trees convey the same joy and beauty with less fuss and muss. Some day my shoulder and hubby's back may heal to the point we can wrangle a big live spruce or fir back in the door, but for now I am very content with the alternative! Joyeux Noel Everyone!!

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