The French word "sous-vide" + Win "Flirting with French"
The French word topinambour--it saved French lives during WW2

The French word "tomber," the cops, and my mother-in-law


Enter to win this French holiday CD (pictured below)
Simply tell me a favorite song of yours here in the comments.

My mother-in-law might say "something by Elvis or Gainsbourg." That's her, right, in Nyons. Look at those trusty shoes she is wearing--the last thing I packed for her before the firemen whisked her away, yesterday! Read on.

tomber (tohm-bay)

    : to fall

Audio: Listen to Jean-Marc MP3 or Wav

Depuis son retour de la clinique, Michèle-France est tombée quatre fois dans son appartement.
Since her return from the clinic, Michèle-France has fallen four times in her apartment.

Tis The Season... Already?
Yesterday, at the bakery to buy croissants for my mother-in-law, I saw a tray samples beside the cash register. The famous pompe à l'huile cake was on display and for the taking! Reaching for a slice, the scent of fleur d'oranger reminded me of Christmas with our French family. (Cousin, Sabine makes the famous "olive oil cake".) I will need to get this recipe for you (can't wait? Find it on page 254 of this book, of all books or free on the internet). Meantime, here is a lovely CD to set the mood....

To enter to win this CD, simply tell me your favorite song here in the comments box.

French Christmas CD

French Christmas Music: "Mon Beau Sapin", "Saint Nuit", "La Marche des Rois", "Petite Ville Bethléem", "Il est né Le Divin Enfant".  Order CD here or enter to win it when you tell me your favorite song here in the comments.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

"A Hunger for Life"

Arriving at my mother-in-law's for our breakfast date, I was unable to enter her apartment building. I'd forgotten the secret numbers to la digicode box, that push-buttoned "Open Sesame!" on the wall beside the entrance. 

When Michèle-France did not answer her phone, I waded through the scratchy buissons beside the entrance and peered into her living room window. That's when I saw my mother-in-law lying motionless on the floor!

"C'est moi! C'est moi!" I shouted, tapping on the window, but my mother-in-law could not turn to see me. Recognizing my voice she struggled to remember her digicode number--and succeeded! 

I typed the four digits and hurried into the bâtiment, expecting to find the next door open (my husband had told his mother to quit locking her door--in case of an emergency like this one--the fourth time she'd fallen since returning from the clinic).

Manque de chance! Michèle-France's door was locked! 

"The keys are on the door!" my mother-in-law insisted, straining to carry her voice.

"No, there are no keys on the door!" I repeated, carefully eyeing all three keyholes and running my fingers over them as a personal sanity check. I looked everywhere, pausing only to concentrate. Keep calm and the keys will appear! 

So much for calm. Instinct kicked in and I flung myself at the door, once, twice, three times....

Running back outside I began forcing the windows. Flimsy as they were they would not give! I ran around to the side of the building and began yanking the metal shutters of her bedroom. I could almost pry them open but for an out-of-reach latch.

Returning to the front windows I shouted to my mother-in-law not to worry, but we would have to call the fire department. This was a last resort--for my mother-in-law would have preferred to keep this latest slip between the two of us. She was desperate not to return to the clinic, which is where her worried family would send her after this morning's chute.

On my tiptoes I peered back through the window and saw my mother-in-law had managed to turn her head. I smiled back at her, throwing kisses through the glass that separated us. Her face lit up and I assured her I'd be right back.  

Now... what was the French version of 911? The numbers finally came to mind for the emergency call but try as I might I could not dial 17. Instead 177 kept appearing on my mobil phone screen. I tried to steady my hands and on the fourth attempt I heard a French woman's voice. I'd dialed the police department!

"Désolée! I meant to dial the pompiers," I explained.

The woman assured me not to worry and began the questioning. Where was I calling from? What was my name? Was my mother-in-law alive?


I ran back up to the window, knowing perfectly well the answer. "Oui!"

"OK," the officer said. The police are on their way, but you will need to contact the fire department. Dial 18....

"We just need the pompiers--not the police!"

The officer assured me this was protocol on hung up. Hands steady this time, I dialed les pompiers. Five minutes later a team of three firefighters, two men and one woman, was standing outside my mother-in-law's bedroom window. They pulled on thin white gloves and began prying open the metal shutters, this time with success!

Luckily the bedroom window was open and one of the pompiers jumped through it to open the front door. Next, the police arrived (all three of them, including one woman) and began interrogating me.

Your name? Your birthdate?  Your telephone? Your address? Where were you born?

"The Philippines," I answered, keeping an eye on my mother-in-law, who answered "Maroc",or Morocco, for her birthplace. She was being interrogated too--by the fire department. They had lifted her off the cold floor and set her gently into her chair.

I noticed how tenderly the firefighters handled my mother-in-law, whose humor kicked in as she began flirting with the youngest member of the team. Those handsome French uniforms! But I cringed when they responded to her with  "ma petite dame" and other terms of endearment that, to a strong-willed woman like my mother-in-law, translated to "LITTLE OLD LADY!"

Looking closely, she appeared to be another, weaker person. But this was owing to the absence of her teeth. I hurried to the bathroom to get them for her--the moment she asked for them.

And her hair... She had always kept it up--along with her nails--fiesty-fiesty red! Her hair was dyed a more delicate shade--strawberry. But lately, her hairdresser was not returning her calls, not since she asked for a favor: could he make one exception and do a house call?

"She will need a change of underwear, " the female firefighter said, waking me from my seat at the hair salon. I had been watching my mother-in-law getting all dolled up in the next swivel chair.... until it all disappeared to the present moment. There she sat, barefoot and sparsely dressed. Her snowwhite hair reminding me of the underwear I needed to be getting.

"J'y vais! I'm going to get them!" I answered the firefighter, hurrying to my mother-in-law's bedroom to grab the culottes ... when the phone rang. It was my husband. Only, just as soon as I heard his voice, my own began to crack. No words would come out.

"I'm on my way," Jean-Marc said. 

It was stupid and indulgent to cry when everything was going so well. Things could have been so much worse! Jean-Marc arrived almost at the same time as the auxiliaire de vie, or care assistant, who was scheduled to see my mother-in-law that morning. Now the apartment teamed with 10 unexpected guests. And then the neighbors passed by, casually peeking past the front door where my mother-in-law sat completely exposed.

After I hurried to shut the door, the room hummed even louder with all the questioning by the various municipal workers, who were all going beyond the call of duty. So much so that my mother-in-law began to unbridle her heart--telling her full story to anyone who would listen: "All those months in the hospital. Then the clinic. All that physical therapy. FOR THIS! I've been lying on the floor for 4 hours. Let me tell you--all you young'uns--getting old SUCKS!"

No, she didn't really say those last three unseemly words, but she was thinking it. I could see it in her eyes as a blanket was thrown over her lap and the professionals  cooed, "Dear little old lady, all will be well!"

*    *    *

All alone in the apartment--my mother-in-law having been carted off in a wheelchair, followed by an entourage of helpers, I looked around nostalgically. I recognized all the framed photos of family, the wooden armoire with the carved doors, the favorite watercolors by her artist friend. In a cut crystal vase the branches of bruyère I'd brought last fall were dried up and colorless. I had the urge to stuff them in the garbage like a menacing note. 

I took off my coat and rolled up my sleeves. My husband had left the keys and I would lock up just as soon as the dishes were done and the bed was made. This time I wasn't going to leave my belle-mère's apartment in disarray. Not like the last time when chaos hit so suddenly. 

Hanging the kitchen towel to dry I noticed the sacks of croissants I had brought for our breakfast date. They were still sitting on the window sill where I'd dropped them before trying to break into the apartment.

But one of the sacks was missing....

An image of a fireman running back to the building crossed my mind. So that is what he'd come back for--her breakfast. In all the haste my mother-in-law managed to remember that buttery, rich croissant! Chances are she will be just fine--as long as she keeps that hunger for life.

To leave a comment or to read one, click here. And tell me your favorite song to enter to win the Fernch CD, mentioned earlier!

French Vocabulary
le buisson = shrub, bush
le bâtiment = building
manque de chance = no luck
désolé(e) = sorry
la chute = fall
le pompier = firefighter
la culotte = panties (U.S.) knickers (U.K.)
auxiliaire de vie = home health aid, care assistant
la bruyère = heather
la belle-mère = mother-in-law

France Today Free Gift

Do not miss France Today's special subscription offer--a wonderful Little Black Book of Paris! Click here to check out the free gift with subscription


You may wonder why I've been busy transplanting dozens of strawberry plants. Because my family loves  un bon milk-shake à la fraise (the healthy kind). If you haven't gotten a Nutribullet yet, please consider this one here. And this model, right here, is priced lower than the one pictured above. A perfect holiday gift for my mother-in-law. Now to get her back out of that clinic!

When you shop for anything at Amazon, entering the store via one of the links in this letter or at the blog, your purchase helps support this free word journal. Merci beaucoup!

*    *    *

Don't forget to enter to win the French CD--and forward this so a friend has a chance to win too. On second thought, why lower your chances?

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. Zelle®, an easy way to donate and there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Anne Cote McManus

"Il est né Le Divin Enfant". I have so many warm memories of singing French Christmas carols with my family. My grandmother- "Mamie", played the organ in her small parish church and "Papie" sang in the choir.

Jacqueline Bucar

Not sure when you ask for a favorite song if you just mean Christmas songs or French songs in general. I find Petit Papa Noel absolutely charming and a song that captures the magic of the holiday. And for non holiday songs, while there are so many wonderful French songs, I love La Belle Histoire d'Amour (Piaf) which is so emotionally charged with a beautiful refrain.
Hope your mother in law recuperates fast. It's a worry when the elderly begin to fall. Keep us posted


My favorite Christmas song is Carol of the Bells.

Lacie E.

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" is a favorite Christmas song of mine. I am a Police & Fire dispatcher, I take those kinds of calls often. I hope your mother-in-law recovers quickly.


I hope your mother-in-law recuperates swiftly and well. I'm glad you were there for her.
My current favorite Christmas song is a beautiful contemporary carol called "Chariots" sung by the group Nowell Sing We Clear. The last verse is especially powerful.

"As a candle can conquer the demons of darkness

As a flame can keep frost from the deepest of cold

So a song can give hope in the depths of all danger

And a line of pure melody soar in your soul

So sing your songs well and sing your songs sweetly

And swear that your singing it never shall cease

So the clatter of battle and drums of disaster

Be drowned in the sound of the pipes of peace"

Vicky from Athens

My favorite Christmas tune is "The Holly and The Ivy". I don't even know if it has words - I'm sure it must but over the years I've only ever heard an instrumental version. However, "Ave Maria" will always bring tears to my eyes and I never tire of hearing it. What a hair-raising day you had! But you came through it like a champ (as did you mother-in-law)and I'll bet you never forget the French version of 911. Aren't we glad we don't have days like that very often?!

Barbara Bruell

Feeling for you and your family as you go through the trials of parents aging. My favorite song is "Mon Beau Sapin",.


I'm absolutely overcome with nostalgia was soon as November finishes. And the music just adds to my mood. My favorite Christmas song is "Cantique de Noel/O Holy Night".
A great version here (with Elina Garanca and Juan Diego Florez):


My wish is for a speedy recovery for your dear mother-in-law. My favorite song is "Here Comes Santa Claus sung by Elvis.

Annette Heath

It's not easy to choose just one, but perhaps it is "I'll Be Home for Christmas"....a sad but lovely song. There were many Christmases when I could not be home. Warm wishes for your Belle Mere's rapid and complete recovery. Such a blessing that you arrived when you did. Falls can be devastating for the elderly.


Oh, how I hope your mother in law is okay. This happened several times with my mom and I was always impressed with the rescue squad members who attended her. One was even a former 5th grade student of hers.
My favorite Christmas song is Joy to the World - Joyeux Noel (hehehe - probably the only one I know the French for, too. Thank you for the chance to win the CD.


"christmas wrapping" by THE WAITRESSES

Linda D.

Sending healing wishes for your mother in law. How wonderful that you were in the right place at the right time to help! It feels so hard for me to balance my aging parent's wish for independence with my own need to feel they are safe. When you share stories like this, I think we can learn from each other. It made me smile that she remembered the fresh croissants!

As for Christmas carols, I think my favorite French one is Un Flambeau Jeannette Isabelle. As for English carols, there are more than I can count. There is always something deeply satisfying about belting out the Gloria's in Oh Come All Ye Faithful on Christmas Eve.

Brittany Stolle

I hope your mother in law has a speedy recovery. I'll keep her in my prayers. As for carols, it's so had to choose, but is have to say silent night is at the top of my list. Hearing that sing brings back some wonderful memories of past holidays.

Thanks for offering a lovely giveaway!


Silver Bells!

Judith Cheney

On this CD my favorite is "Il est ne Le Divin Enfant". In other carols my favorite is I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day or Good King Wenceslas. Kristin, I hope your dear Mother-in-law is feeling better today. It is truly not for sissies, growing old. You all must be strong, calm & sympathique for her. I've been there with my Mama on the floor, getting there now oi-meme.

Crystal Pfeffer

O Holy Night

Caroline B

Pat a Pan ( tu ra lu ra luuuu, pat a pat a pan, au son de son tambourin..) So fun to sing with a festive but haunting melody.

Virginia Kairys

Aaahhh. What a story! Please tell your strong, wonderful mother-in-law (not little old lady!) that Claire (who is 80) and her daughter (me) in Toronto are wishing her well. Claire had hip surgery this year and knows exactly what she means!! Hugs, warm wishes for great health and a sense of humour on those days when things are painful or grim.


Mary Did You Know?

It's even more beautiful sung by cette petite fille :-)

Fiadhnat McGrath

One of my favourite Christmas songs is Little Drummer Boy.
Hope your m-i-l is feeling better.


Kristin, J'oublié de souhaiter votre belle-mère un prompt rétablissement! I care for my own mother who is 82, and have found her on the floor as well. This is a traumatic experience to say the least. Praying for your sweet mother-in-law as well as you and Jean-Marc as you work through these health issues. And for full recovery for your mother-in-law. God can do more than we can ask or imagine!

Deborah J

I am crazy about "Les Anges dans nos Campagnes" especially Kiri Te Kanawa singing it (in English)! I hope many "anges" of mercy will minister to you and your dear mom-in-law and family at this difficult time.


I don't know any French Christmas songs yet, but a new CD would be wonderful. I do love listening to French music to help my ears get used to hearing the language more so I can try to speak it better. I like "White Christmas", "Let It Snow", and a lot of other Christmas songs. I love spending time with my family during the holidays.


Il est ne le devin enfant ...hmm or The Huron Christma Carol. Thinking of you and your mother-in-law.

Edie DeWeese

I only know one French Christmas carol, so it's my favorite. We used to sing "Il est ne," in my high school French class and I know the words nearly as well as any of the old standbys in English.

P.S. Did the pompier really say "Ma petit dame?" Is that a typo for petite or just one of those inscrutable French expressions?

Diane Stanley

As we age, we can't help but see the brevity of life, as our loved ones age and dear ones leave us. I am so sorry, Kristin, about your mother-law's falls. I will be praying for her complete recuperation. Old age does have its benefits though. We get to see our grandchildren grow up, and maybe even our great grandchildren! My favorite Christmas carol is "What Child Is This?" based on the traditional English tune, "Greensleeves." The song is about the baby Jesus. As I age, Jesus gives me GREAT HOPE for an even better future, and does also to all those who put their trust in Him.


I never realized ma petite dame implied old!
What a story today! Hope you keep us posted on how she is doing. Wondering if anything was broken...

Nancy Lobalbo

"I'll Be Home For Christmas" has always been "our" Christmas song (Ralph & I). As a policeman for 28 years, there were MANY times when he was not home for Christmas. I often told the children "The bad guys don't take Christmas off, so Daddy can't either". But it's the last line of the song that always makes me sputter "If only in my dreams....." So although he couldn't be there physically, we always knew he was with us in spirit.
I hope you belle mere is doing better. My dear maman is 93 yrs. young, as is my belle mere. My mom lives in 'senior housing' (he own apartment is a secure building), Ralph's mom is still living in her own home. It's quite a challenge to be responsible for them, so I feel for you & Jean Marc. Sending good wishes your way <3

Susan Dautel

What a masterful and poignant writing today--at first we feel all the haste, anxiety and worry that you must have been experiencing, and then the relief and love as aid arrives and care-taking begins. The hardest part has arrived for you, as it has for me, of helping an aging parent accept the necessary (and sucky!) life changes. Best wishes for a quick recovery for your mother in law.
Not in the CD quest, but highly recommend to everyone the totally fun rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas by Straight No Chaser. Look for it on YouTube--I always have to watch more than once at a time cause it's so darn clever!

Lucille Dodge

"Il est nee le divine enfant" is up there as one of my favorite Christmas songs. We always sang it in elementary school..


My favorite Christmas song has got to be the classic from Nat King Cole..."The Christmas song"..or better known as "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire". This song to me is the visionary resource of everything that Christmas is made of.

Karen Cafarella

I hope your mother-in-law has a speedy recovery. Your warmth for your mother-in-law shows through in your writing.

I love so many Christmas songs but my favorite is the Cheech and Chong "Santa and the Magic Dust"


Susan Boudreau

Minuit Chretien is my favorite carol. It reminds me of the years I sang in the children's choir at the French elementary school I attended. Best wishes to your mother in law for a speedy and complete recovery.

Patti Tolar

My favorite Christmas song is "Cantique de Noel/O Holy Night". Just reading about Christmas has me humming the song.

Thérèse Callaghan

A lovely little Irish Christmas carol called "little donkey"'s a children's song but I sing it all year round to my golden retriever Penny. So much about Christmas is nostalgia and about memories, and this song bring so many back to me....of nativity plays, choirs, fairs. I can't wait to hear my own children singing it! Best wishes to your mother in law. I hope you're all ok now, what a terrible shock to get.


I will keep your belle mere in my thoughts and prayers. I hope she will recover speedily. I wouldn't even think of judging you for crying after such a stressful event! In fact, I would have reacted in the same way. My favourite Christmas song is Walking in a Winter Wonderland.

Coleen Clemente

My favorite (or at least one of them) is Mon Beau Sapin!
I just love it and sing it ove and over.


"Ma petit dame".... Wouldn't that be "ma petite dame"...? Just a typo, maybe?

My favorite Christmas song is Jesu Son Most Sweet and Dear.

Stan Harvey

One of my favorites that you don't hear that often, and I don't think anyone has ever re-recorded, is Bing Crosby and David Bowie (talk about an unusual pairing) singing Peace on Earth/The Little Drummer Boy. It has a great back story, too.
Best wishes for your mother-in-law!

Julie Farrar

What a fright you all had. I hope your mother recovers and is home tout de suite (correct?). That's probably the scariest thing about getting older. I'm really working on balance poses in yoga class and on upper body strength so I can (I hope) minimize falling and have the strength to get myself up if I do. She is so blessed to have you looking after her.

As for music, my favorite from my years in children's choir is "Bring a torch, Jeanette Isabella," aka The French Christmas Carol. Here's an excerpt from Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Chorus


The Little Drummer Boy!
and thanks for the info about ordering from Amazon, will do it through your link next time!

Ellen A. from Beverly Hills

Marie France is so lucky that you are her belle-fille. You might see if she has been prescribed statins like Lipitor (don't know what statins are called in French). The doctors think they are a wonder drug, but often have bad side effects of leg muscle weakness, so a lower dose or alternative cholesterol drug may be preferred.
My favorite Christmas music is the Welsh carol Suo Gan:

Julie Farrar

Wait wait! I take it back. I saw someone else mention Mary Did You Know and I heartily concur. Here is a fabulous rendition by Kathy Mattea. Heard her do it live a couple of Christmases ago. So ethereal.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA


Just wanted to say I hope your mother-in-law is doing well.

While caring for my mother, we would often say "getting old ain't for sissies!" Her brother gave us a good one, too, when he remarked that old age should be referred to as the rusty years, not the golden years.

Yes, a hunger for life is what keeps people going!


Those were merely tears of relief. No reason to label them stupid. :)


Un flambeau, Jeannette Isabelle. Je la chante chaque année avec mes élèves. C'est la chanson qu'on joue quelquefois dans les magasins, mais il n'y a jamais de paroles. Les élèves sont souvent surpris que les paroles existent !


Un flambeau Jeanette, Isabelle.


"Little Drummer Boy" by Bing Crosby and David Bowie - a strange pairing, but beautiful together.

Deborah Z

Oh I hope your mother-in-law makes a quick recovery and isn't broken!

My all time favorite song is Over the Rainbow sung by Judy Garland

On the album The French Christmas my favorite is
entre le boeuf et l'ane gris

My CD is so old and well played I will need to replace it soon. I play it on and off all year round. :)

Sandra Vichery

I hope your mother in law is okay and has a speedy recovery! Thank God you were there at the right time.. My favorite Christmas song is Blue Christmas by Elvis..


Definitely Little Drummer Boy - it always reminds me of my Mother singing it when I was a child.

Mary Jane Neill

I hope your mother in law recovers quicklly. My favorite Christmas song is "I Love Those JINGLE Bells." My favorite song that is not Christmas is Johnny Halliday's "Que Je t'aime."

joie in carmel-by-the-sea

Your belle mere has a zest for life. She will be back. Perhaps it is time for a small walker in the apartment. Christmas song....Little Drummer Boy.

Luann Marie

Sending prayers for your belle mere. I can empathize with your situation.

A truly moving and truly beautiful song - Oh, Holy Night. It always sends shivers down my spine.



My favourite song right now is L'amour by Karim Ouellet. I love his music. It's fun and upbeat.

All the best to your belle mère, Kristin.

Elizabeth Inserra

I Believe In Father Christmas by Greg Lake. A song of hope and caution.


My favorite Christmas song is The Christmas Song, sung my Nat "King" Cole. You know the one: "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." It completely evokes the feeling of the holiday season that I recall as a child. Love it.


Tales From the Crypt Christmas needs a french version, lol, Also "I wanna hippopotamus for Christmas" and "Santa got run over be a reindeer" If there are any joke french Christmas carols, let me know! The French have a great sense of humor, so there must be some!


My own mother was not a very nice person, sad to say, in life, but she was very kind to her daughters when she was dying. No prolonged nursing home stays. No frequent hospital visits. No painful illnesses. Until her last days at age 87, she cooked her breakfast, showered and remained alert. Then, one day she said, "I don't feel well. it is time to go to the hospital." She had only been to a hospital twice in her life when she gave birth to her daughters. She arrived at hospital at 9 a.m., was made comfortable and at 9 p.m. breathed her last. Friends with angel mothers are enduring exhausting hours as caretakers,and insults and accusations from their previously sweet-tempered moms. My prayer is that I am gentle with my daughters should I find myself incapacitated.
As for you, Kristen, you are never stupid. You are always giving, patient and loving. As another reader said, your belle-mere is blessed to have you as her daughter-in-law.

Barry from Alabama

The holidays are fast approaching and I have started hearing Christmas songs on the radio already. White Christmas and Holly Jolly Christmas are two of my favorites.

Wow, your day turned from routine to eventful in a snap. We will all be in the position to need a little help. Yet another reason to be good to our family and friends.

I would like to echo others and wish your mother-in-law a speedy recovery!

Lisa Friendly

I love the children's song "Lundi Matin." It helped me to improve my French accent when I was an exchange student in high school in Nantes in the late 60s. And I love your column!


I am so sorry to hear about your belle-mere's troubles! I just visited a friend in an assisted living center and it is not easy for the person nor their loved ones!

On a happier, Christmasy note, I love "Il est né Le Divin Enfant" - of course, I love almost any and every Christmas carrol. Christmas is coming - yeah, I get to go see my daughter and her family!! Take care! Judi

Tammy Loehlein

So very hard to choose just one but O Holy Night will be my choice!

Joan L.

My favorite is O Holy Night, but only if it is sung well. We are lucky to live in a community where there is a yearly performance of Handel's "Messiah" the first weekend in December. The "For unto us a child is given.." chorus is awesome, and puts everyone in the Christmas spirit. I also highly recommend a you-tube video of an Alaskan village in winter showing the words to the Hallelujah Chorus as the music is played. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time.
God bless you and your belle-mere.
Joan L.

Carolyn R Chase

I've always loved "Auprès de ma blonde"

kathleen cushmore

You write a great story. I so hope your mother in law is doing well and can live on her own again. You and she are right...getting old is not for sissies !! You've made me think of Christmas coming quickly, so my favorite choice of song is "The first noel".
Bon soir,

Kathleen from Connecticut


I hope your mother in law is doing better. Why doesn't she have a life line pendant which she could push to summon help. My mother finally agreed to get one when she was on the floor for 20 hours. They are a blessing. I know that in the states you can get them to wear around your neck or as a bracelet. I hope that they have them in France and please have her get one.

My favorite Christmas song is " Silent Night" especially when sung in church on Christmas Eve with candles shining and lights down low.


Leisa Smith

Dear Kristin,

My heart is in my throat, and tears have sprung to my eyes after reading todays post, beautifully captured and heartrending.
Prayers, BIG hugs and loads of support to you all, especially to your dear Belle-Mere.
Much love from Oz,


Oh I'm so sorry to hear about your dear Belle-Mere - our prayers are with you! Just this morning I was playing carols on the piano accompanying a cellist in preparation for an evening of Christmas music - with you and Jean Marc could come! Maybe some year we'll do this in Aix! Anyway, I do love "Il est né Le Divin Enfant" - such a happy lilt to that tune. Can't say I have a true favorite because there are SO many carols I love!


Oh, Kristin! I hope your belle-mere is on her way to a speedy recovery! What a morning!

Favorite song . . . hmmmm . . . so hard to pick just one! There were some beautiful songs named by your lovely readers, Christmas wouldn't be the same without many of them. From playful (I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas was one of my childhood favorites) to peaceful (Silent Night). But, pushed to just one, I think I'd have to go with Bing Crosby's White Christmas.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristin,
A worry becomes reality....and how scary it can be! We went through this a year ago with my 94 year old father- in-law. He fell while walking to his car, due to a pinched nerve from a compressed disc in his spine. After surgery it took him about 9 months to regain his strength and stamina. No more leg brace, walker or cane, all of which stripped him of his dignity. It is difficult to give up one's mobility and independence. I knew my dear father-in -law understood his situation when he would grip my arm when walking became precarious.... throwing pride aside for safety. He now walks freely, even with a spring in his step. When dealing with such a state, I think all we can offer is support and encouragement and an effort to foster independence when possible. The suggestion for an alert necklace or bracelet would seem to support that for Marie-France. Her spunky nature seems to have pulled her through her ordeal so far....hope it continues to do so!


Tout ca me fait triste chere amie. C'est le commencement du demise de votre belle mere. Not knowing her, I love her from your amazing descriptions. Mais, c'est claire que vous sont tous ensembles comme famille pour decider comment faire les decisions en regarde du future. Ce n'est pas facile. famille va survivre et aussi les memoires.

suzahn fiering

Il est né Le Divin Enfant. I would love to hear this CD. I sing quite a few of these songs in French (with a Gypsy Jazz flair) and never get tired of hearing other interpretations. I hope you get to enjoy Thanksgiving in France this year once again. Thanks for all you do!


My all-time favorite is "Twelve Days of Christmas" by John Denver and The Muppets. Every Christmas season kicks off with playing the Muppets album - wouldn't be Christmas without it!
Sending warm, positive thoughts for your mother-in-law and your whole family!

Patty Cargill

So sorry to hear of her fall. Thankfully you were there that morning! Wishing dear Marie-France a quick recovery...and big hugs to you, Kristin, this was a highly-charged emotional time--is not easy caring for our parents Your family is blessed by your & J-M's presence. Hugs coming from a crisp, windy fall day in SW Virginia where there is a riot of color on the trees.


I hope your mother-in-law is doing well and recovering. I know it can be scary when this happens to a loved one. You handled it all quite well. My favorite Christmas song is the song David Bowie sang with Bing Crosby during his Christmas special in the 70's, drummer boy. I mostly like their version; two musicians from different genre's pairing up so well.

Take care.

Deb Blaz

The oldest one of them all: O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

Hildred Sullivan

Add my wishes for your mother-un-law's quick recovery. My favorite carol from the cd is il est ne le devine Enfant which I learned so many years ago in French class.

Sue J.

healing prayers being sent to you and your belle mere...many memoris of singing "Il est ne, le divin enfant" as a child in school. French began in first grade.


along with others I loved Il est né le divin enfant after learning it in French class. And then in one of those never-to-be-forgotten experiences, I was in Notre Dame de Paris on Christmas Day when they flung open the big doors and we all walked out singing
Il est né le divan enfant, jouez haut-bois...

Susan Kissel

Oh Holy Night ... I forget how pretty it is until I hear it again each season. You are doing great with your aging parents, hang in there.

Harriet Van Eps

Yes my darling Kristin. She wants her independence. Who could blame her la cherie plus plus cher mother-in law. I have been where you are and here is some unsolicited advice. She cannot live alone a cette pointe. I know that the clinique and soforth are not her choice. The hell of getting old and losing balance are deeply felt by those of us who have dealt with the situation. A broken hip or pelvis could be fatal. I know that this is something that you and Jean-Marc are concerned about. It is a truth that as one becomes older, the battle for independence becomes more intense. First, the fading vision or hearing, then that devil of falling…I do vote for the medic-alert necklace or bracelet or a simple cell phone especially for the elderly with your number set as the only one and the simple button to call the 911 ---17---or 18 would give her some reluctantly received control over the situation. I too am getting older and have faulty balance. The risk of breaking a bone (although the French have strong ones) is too great to be ignored. Consult with her doctor and make a plan. Joyeux Noel in November is a little premature! I vote for Joy to the World. King Wenceslas would be 2nd. Partridge in a Pear Tree, 3rd. I spent a glorious Christmas with my French famille and the midnight mass marked the commencement of celebration for 12 days. Dinner at 2 a.m. !t Keeps the children (who are now adults) from waking up so very early on Christmas Day! Happiest American Thanksgiving to you and your extended famille. xxooharriet


My favorite X-mas song is "have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (original version that goes" someday soon we all will be together , if the Saints allow.......Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow") Always brings a tear to my eye as I so miss family members that can not be with me for whatever reason. Best wishes for your Mom in law...(as Bette Davis said.."getting old ain't for sissies ") She is so lucky to have such a caring family though.


My husband and I each have a "Bullet" and love them. Would make almost anyone a great Christmas gift. As for songs.... my favorite is Silent Night (in any language). Joan

Letitia Searcy

My heart warms each time I hear "Aux Champs Élysées" as I heard it over and over on the Hop On Hop Off Tour in Paris. Hopefully, I will spend Christmas in France and hear these carols.
Letitia Searcy, St. Simons Island, GA

Sharon Auckerman

OMG!!!! I just spent the past week with my parents who are in their late 80-'s. My mother is in the final stages of dementia and my father was diagnosed with a malignant thyroid tumor and is getting ready to have radiation therapy (his only option because of his age). My heart goes out to you and your family. It is very difficult to watch the demise of your parents health. I want to remember mine as they were most of their lives, strong, healthy, and able to talk about their life and remember the good times.
I can only pray that you stay strong and loving during the difficult times ahead. This is the natural progression of life and there is much to bear.
And, I have so many favorite Christmas songs, but the one that I keep hearing in my mind lately is "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear".


I have such fond memories of singing "Entre le boeuf" in choir as a girl- such a pretty song!


chanson favorite! Tant de choix! Comme ebfant je vivais a Paris (XVI ) dans la rue lauriston très proche de l'étoile et les champs Élysées. Quand ma première amie anglaise(Nous avions 9 ã 13 ans) - quand elle est allé demeurer en Frannce je lui emporté des chansons francaises. sa favorite était \> chantée par Jules Dassin. La chanson me la souvient d'elle et hélas elle sst mort. Por ses raisons > !

Leanne Retana

My favorite Christmas song is Emmanuel as sung by Tori Amos on her album Midwinter Graces.

Angela Bell

"La Vie en Rose" -- it is "our" song -- also the name of the resto in St. Martin where we had dinner on the balcony overlooking the Caribbean -- my first trip there. Played at our wedding and still makes us smile years later.

Imogene Jones Cloar

My favorite Christmas song in French is "Cantique de Noel" or "O Holy Night," probably because it was the first French Christmas song I learned, and it was so much fun to fit the words into the extensive range of the song. When my children were little, and I taught French at a little Christian school, the children's favorite was "Il Est Ne, Le Devin Enfant." The words lend themselves to pantomime, particularly when the children would lower their voices and tiptoe around the creche, so as not to wake the baby. The older children found a bit of humor in the fact that, in the Louis Segond version of Luc 2, the babe clad in swaddling clothes is wearing a "maillot," something they had formerly only associated with swimsuits.

Imogene Jones Cloar

I just realized I misspelled "divin" earlier. I would love to know more about the origin of the word "Noel." As for other favorite songs, "Yesterday" by the Beatles gives me away as close the age of Kristin's mother-in-law, as does Roy Orbison's "Anything You Want, You Got it." I also love Rod Stewart and Bon Jovi. Our theme song in French classes one year was "I Will Remember You," by Amy Grant. We sang it in French, of course, and my daughter who loved piano at age 12 noticed that one can play "Liebestraume" on the piano and sing "I Will Remember You," or "Je me Souviendrai de Toi," because the chords fall just right. Hopefully they all are remembering their French classes and each other now.


Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell and Mary Did You Know by Heidi Joy ~

Denise Davis

How is your mother-in-law doing? I am caring for my 82yo mother and just happened to be home when she fell in the bathroom- luckily I was able to get her up. I will pray for both of you.
My favorite Christmas carol is 'Carol of The Bells'. It takes me back to singing in the church choir as a child in Florida. I had never seen snow but the song somehow gave me visions of snow and mountains.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)