Visit our new vineyard? + "hairspray" in French
cross-cultural awareness: say it in French, do it often

To have the munchies, in French + We have a party, I learn a few more lessons...

1-Mas des Brun French wedding anniversary country dinner
Photo (by Pascale Gauthier) of our wedding anniversary dinner, here at home.


    : to have the munchies (a sudden desire to snack)

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

The following story was written in 2014...

On Friday night 45 of our closest friends came over for a sit-down dinner to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Jean-Marc and I weeded our front yard, dusted our window shutters (Spiderwebs? Really?), and rented tables and chairs from the Mairie

Lesson no. 1: Etaler. (Spread out.)

As the guests arrived, I quickly saw what a bad idea it was for the boys to have set the hors-d'oeuvres table on an incline. Not wanting to question our son's 19-year old friends (who we hired to help)--and seeing their pride in their new jobs--I turned a blind eye and hoped for the best. And the guests did their best to cling together at the edge of the drinks table, with only one or two tumbling off the little hill every now and then.

Lesson no. 2: Impose-Toi! (Butt in!)

Because I'm jittery, Jean-Marc insisted he would take care of the party details. So when the hors d'oeuvres arrived--unassembled, in three giant ice buckets (were those tortillas for the spreads? If so which?)--my husband told me to leave it for the boys to work out. "If they have a question, they'll call Vava and Laurent (our friends/caterers)!"

Only, when Vava arrived for the party, she quietly pointed out the ratatouille (in dainty plates across the hors d'oeuvres table) was not for cocktail hour--it was for the main course

Lesson no. 3: Fourchettes, pas cuillières! (Forks not spoons!)

Finally seated, Jean-Marc announced to our 45 guests it was time to pick up our plates and head to the banquet--where the lamb and accompaniments awaited us. Sort of....

We watched as the men at the fire pit handed over plates of roasted meat, but where was the ratatouille? Quick, grab it from the tables in the backyard and dart back to the buffet--scrape, scrape, scrape. Now where were the serving spoons?

Whoops, spoke to soon--I meant forks! Run back to the kitchen and get fourchettes so the guests will quit trying to fling the meat from platter to plate with the help of two slippery spoons!

Lesson 4: On Mange à Table! (We eat at the table!)

All calmed down now, with full tummies, I noticed how some of the guests were getting tipsy.... All those special cuvées Jean-Marc brought out--including a 1994 Chateauneuf-du-Pape (grapes we picked before our marriage) had not gone to waste!

Jean-Marc now stood swaying, eating his ice cream behind me as I sat sober as a splash of water, talking to old friends. But every now and then my arm flew up to swat at my husband--who was dripping bright red cassis sorbet as he leaned over me and my new dress!

Lesson 5: Commander un bon DJ. (Hire a good DJ.)

When an uncomfortably-long lull had us lingering at the dinner tables, I wondered Where has Jean-Marc disappeared to? 

"He's fiddling with the sound system," someone explained. Finally, guests began trickling down to the boules court, where a dusty dance floor awaited. 

And awaited... and awaited. The music just wasn't doing it, and it was either the fault of Jean-Marc's smartphone (some music system!) or the fact that all those "request songs" we'd asked our guests for made for lousy dance material.

My poor husband now stood swaying on the dance floor until two lit girls and a faithful old friend joined in. I could no longer stand staring from the sidelines with the audience; it was time to buck up, disengage from the gawkers, and join the offbeat dancers.

Jean-Marc reached out for me, grabbing my hand and twirling me around a few times, when I stopped to whisper in his ear: "No one wants to dance!" I murmured, so as not to utter my true thoughts: they think our party sucks!

"Well," he said--the sparkle in his eyes melting me inside--"then they'll all go home earlier." With that he laughed, a little tipsy, and twirled me around and around. I was charmed by Jean-Marc's words. He was clearly remembering my aversion to all-night parties. And he was telling me, in his own way, that he didn't have to party all night either... but could be happy twirling his sweetheart around and around... till the party poopers went home.

Though my husband's words encouraged me (the only real party pooper in the group), it was still painfully embarrassing to be dancing with the awkward quartet, before a group of gawkers (who were only feeling awkward themselves, given the beat just wasn't calling them forth)... So when the current song ended I wiggled my way, as discreetly as possible, off the dance floor and into the kitchen to check on things.

The counter tops were inch-deep with liquid from all the dirty wineglasses. I now had a perfect excuse to be absent from the doomed dance floor. If anyone questioned my disappearance, I could cite "the flood on the kitchen counter." But once the water was sopped up, back out to the dance floor I went. 

You wouldn't believe the change of scene: disco fever had struck! The men and woman gyrated, twirled, and bucked back and forth across the dusty boules court. Dancing queens every one of them! Our friend Cyril (a former DJ) had thoughtfully taken over. Yahoo!

Lesson no. 5: La Nuit Blanche ne Tue Pas! (A sleepless night won't kill you!)

By 3:30 in the morning the dance floor was still going strong, but I was not. Worried about my neighbors, worried about my dogs (stranded on the balcony above us) and itching to call it a night, I watched nervously as the party carried on and on... right on into our kitchen.

Apparently our guests had an attack of the munchies! Plates of leftovers were pulled from the fridge. And the freezer was raided for leftover ice cream. 

But like a biblical Martha, I busied myself in the kitchen, trying to scrape melted cheese from the wicker platter (19-year-old boys didn't put a plastic sheet down first). Frustrated and wondering when the party would end--by 5 am or 6 or 7 -- noon?) I scraped at the braided bunch of cheesy wicker, finally shoving it aside.

Returning to the small crowd, I studied all the bright faces (5 or 6 friends remained). I noticed people enjoying life. Life was not some number. It wasn't "3 am" or two hours later, or the next day. Life was now, here for the taking. Why not grab it? 

* * *

The next day my mother-in-law lost consciousness. I am quickly finishing this story so I can drive to Marseilles to sit by her bedside. What's important in life? I don't know, but I am learning. 

*    *    *

I am beginning to think my husband is a much nicer person than I. For when--at that melt-down moment at 4:30 am--I said to him "They're still here!" He looked at me and, with a smile, he said, "they are having a good time at the party."

*    *    *

I am learning, from friends  and my husband, that what's important in life is that we help others to have a good time at the party.

Thanks for your thoughts for my dear belle-mère. (Three years after writing this post, and my mother-in-law is doing very well.)

  Bagatelle wedding Jean-Marc Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc, thank you for twenty years together. I have learned so much by your side. 

EMBRYOLISSE cream - used by French grandmothers and makeup artists

FRENCH GOURMET ITEMS - including herbs, mustard, coffee, tisane, chocolate, cakes

FRENCH SHOPPING BAG - made and knit in France!

PARIS METRO CUFF - Unique bracelet with a map of the Paris metro!

WORDS IN A FRENCH LIFE: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France


A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
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.

Angela Sargent

Dear Kristin and Jean-Marc,

Happy Aniversary! and what a lovely picture of you both 20 years ago.


Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Kristi, I had butterflies while reading the first part of your story, but knew your 20th anniversary party (congratulations!) would be a huge success! I could feel the beat! Now my heart goes out to you and Jean-Marc; may your belle-mère sail through these troubled waters.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin!
You and I are alot alike. Maybe people pleasers are like that. We just want to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves and everything goes smoothly. I am always worrying at the expense of my own enjoyment of things. Everything always work out and your guests obviously had a wonderful time! I love Jean Marc's comment! :-) Relax and enjoy your wine tasting guests on the 12th. I will be praying for your mother-in-law! I hope things are looking up for her!

Nancy Mulloy-Bonn

Happy Anniversary. What a beautiful evening...a good husband, you have. I hope that your belle mere gets better soon.


Happy Anniversary ! Life is what you experience moment by moment. Now - not thoughts about yesterday or fears/worries/plans for tomorrow. John Kabat-Zinn has written loads on 'mindfulness.' Bonne chance et bon courage pour votre belle-mere -

Mary Dineen

Prayers from Ohio for your Mother-in-Law.
I enjoyed your post so much, we have all been there.


Dear Kristin:

What a flood of dichotomous emotions you have experienced. Anticipation, jitters, agitation, excitement, butterflies, exhaustion, anxiety, joy... I too suffer from the inability to just let go and fully be in the moment at grand events such as yours was. sigh....

Yet, your anniversary was definitely a success, and it's so wonderful you could see the beauty in it at the end. Jean-Marc is surely your (im)perfect soul mate- the best kind! ;)
And then... what sadness... I feel yours and Jean-Marc's pain in my heart over the news of your beloved belle-mere. I have always immensely enjoyed your stories whenever gentle, yet feisty, Michèle-France would be in them. I pray that she recovers soon.

Loving thoughts toward all...


My thoughts and prayers are with your belle-mere. Please write an update soon on her condition. I can certainly identify with your story of the anniversary party, as I also do not enjoy planning and organizing parties. Preparing for my son's 5th birthday party this past weekend took two busy days of preparations, and many jitters. Everything was perfect (well, almost), but I was left feeling happily exhausted. At least we don't host many such parties, which makes me appreciate the moment, as you say, whenever we do venture into that territory. Happy anniversary, Krisin and Jean-Marc!

Chris Allin

Dear Kristin,
Happy Anniversary to you and Jean-Marc! May your life together continue to be enriched with kindness, love and adventure.

Life can take us from joy to concern and back again in what may seem like a matter of moments. Our hearts are with you both and prayers with your dear belle-mere~


p.s. I wanted to add that Mas des Brun looks so lovely! With each new picture you post, I see your personalities shining through more and more! De toute beauté! ~Alisa :)


Your party sounds wonderful to me :-) I love that you are so honest with your feelings, and you observe people and learn from what you see. You noticed that people were "enjoying life" and decided that was what was important. Happy Anniversary to you and Jean-Marc!



Happy anniversary. A deservedly grand celebration and served liberally with humor. Please keep us posted about your belle mere, our thoughts and best wishes.

Jean-Marc Espinasse

Kristi, thank you for twenty years together. I have learned so much by your side =)


Happy Anniversary! Thank you for a delightful story. Having thrown many parties, I smiled about the food and dancing...seeing myself in your story.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Happy Anniversary! And prayers for your family and belle-mere. A little quote I posted on the door in my mother's little house when I cared for her during her illness: "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strengths." ~ Corrie ten Boom My mom has since passed, but the quote card still remains, as I often find I need this gentle reminder. My thoughts are with you at this time of mixed happy and sad emotions.

Elizabeth Lopez

I'm praying for your belle-mère. And I rejoice with/for you on your anniversair I've loved reading the evolution of your love story.

Sharon Auckerman

Lovely picture of your wedding party. It too ( along with your story) reminds me to take time to enjoy life as it is, not necessarily as we want it.

You have a lovely home and family. Kuddos to Jean-Marc for once again making life worth living.

I hope your mother-in-law is well now. Please update us as many of us feel like part of your family.

Wishing you and your family another wonderful twenty years.


My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I hope your belle-mère returns to good health!


Best wishes and good health to your belle-mère, Kristi.

Rina Rao.

Happy anniv' Kristin---do wish your husband on my behalf.
Your home looks lovely in the picture.
Hope you ma-in-law is better.
Take care.
Love, Rina.


What a beautiful love story!!!!!! So happy for you both :)


Bon anniversaire de mariage!

anita burkhart

kristin....the photos and story looked like something out of a true life fairy tale...the beautiful tables in the garden with your lovely home...your wedding photo ! it was such fun to read about the evening...what a success !! anyone who has ever given a party has shared your feelings...not many are as ambitious as you and jean- marc..45 guests !!! congratulations and the very best wishes for the next 20 years! i do hope your mother- in -law is doing better...anita

edie schmidt


I think we are all still learning what is important in life!Sometimes it's hard to embrace the moment.Sounds like a lovely evening.
Sending prayers for your mother-in-law.

Edie from Savannah


Dear Kristin,
Happy Anniversary and thank you for sharing your highs ... and your lows ... with all your faithful readers. May you have many more years of happiness together, and my prayers are with your mother-in-law.
Los Angeles

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Thanks so much for the wonderful and honest post. I love the various moods --- it is life! Congrats on 20 years ---- as a former marriage counselor ----that is an accomplishment!

The best to your mom-in-law!

Loved the photos --- stay well!


Our dear Kristi,
This is an absolutely beautiful post!Truly one of your best,and one that completely wraps itself around our hearts.
Congratulations on 20 wonderful years together!
God has graced you both and we rejoice with and for you.
Your dear belle mere is uppermost in our prayers.
Natalia. xo


Happy anniversary to you and Jean-Marc Kristin!

I'm keeping your belle-mere in my thoughts and prayers. x

Devra Long

Prayers are with your belle-mere and with all of you.
Happy 20th to you and Jean-Marc!
I have been following your FWAD since the very beginning and I think this is one of my favorite posts. Thank you for all that you share with us.
Warm hugs!


I have to laugh because the last thing I picture the French getting is the munchies!

Love this post, it's one of my favorites of yours. It sounds like it was soooo much fun.


What a delightful post and celebration of your Anniversary! Congratulations to you both. Sending hearts full of comfort to your mother-in-law.

Cate Salenger

It looks beautiful! And sounds like a great success. Congratulations on your twenty years of a happy marriage!

Lanier Cordell

Happy anniversary, to you both! What a nice milestone to have reached and to have friends share the celebration . As always, thank you for sharing it with your readers as well.

Sending you and your family good thoughts and prayers for your mother in law.

catharine ewart-touzot

happy nice to have a party for your friends on your special day!..Not a fan of all night affairs either..but as your husband noted it was certainly an indication that they were having a good time and just did not want to call it quits.So it evidently was a great success.

Karen from Phoenix

Happy Anniversary.

I hope your mother-in-law is much better. Prayers sent your way.


Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

Your home, set for the celebration, looks magical. I would have loved to have been seated at one of those tables and been your alibi; laughing together into the morning light. I can so relate Kristi, for I am the same in these situations and my love has the cool, nonchalance of Jean-Marc --- which does not always have a calming affect on me.

You so beautifully see past your own view to the grander picture. I love that about you. Many blessings for your love to continue to grow and congratulations on your anniversary.

Prayers and loving thoughts go out to your dear mother-in-law.

Patricia Sands

Happy anniversary! It sounds like a truly bonne fête! So often such celebrations are followed by a darker moment ~ my thoughts are with you and your family.

Julia ~ Falling Off Bicycles

Ahh, how I love this, Kristin! I remember being in a similar situation a few years ago when I moved to Amsterdam. I was fearful that my Dutchie's friends would stay until all hours of the night. Thank you for this reframe + new perspective. xoxo and all the best to ta belle-mère.

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

Congratulations!!! What a beautiful post - words, story and pictures. Prayers and best wishes for your mother-in-law and all the family.

Diane Young

It's hard to believe you and JM are celebrating 20 years. How wonderful. I certainly congratulate you for staying awake that long at the party. I know I would have caved. / Prayers for your precious belle mere that she will get better every day. Thank you for all the years you've shared your life with us.

Cynthia Lewis

Happy Anniversary!! You are fortunate to have so many close friends. Thanks for your vivid descriptions and the wonderful photos. I do hope that Jean-Marc's mother has improved by now; she is very dear to all of your family. My best wishes especially for her. Cynthia

Kitty Wilson-Pote

You are such a beacon of candour, courage and great-heartedness, Kristin! It's a joy to see your responsiveness to the demands of hostessing for one who is NOT a party-person. Me too: I recall how much of my gumption grew from my sociable husband's support and presence, and how lovely those memories are now when, without him, I do not 'entertain' like that anymore. Your home has become such a welcoming place that it's no wonder your guests find joy there.
Prayers for your beloved Belle-Mere's wellbeing, and for your own energies in your service to her health of body and spirit.

Georgia from Northern CA

Dear Kristin and Jean Marc,

Congratulations! Twenty years and living life to the fullest! Best wishes to you both and healing wishes for your Belle-Mere!



Congratulations! One of my most favorite post...darling photo of looks fabulous!!

Charlotte West

Hi Kristen

I laughed with sympathetic embarrassment at the story of the party as it began, and then with real enjoyment of the part coming to life. and as you saw others really enjoying your company and each others', it brings home the understanding that love and connection are the true purpose of our lives. All at the part, including the 19year old waiters, will have fond memories to cherie. And what a beautiful photo of you and Jean Marc at your wedding.

Love and prayers for your Belle-Mere


Faye Stelly

Félicitations sur vos 20 ans de mariage....merci beaucoup pour touts les posts !
M'y thoughts and prayers for your mother-In-law.


Such ups and downs
Life is a merry go round
May your belle mere recover to 100 per cent.
Love your pictures...what a gorgeous and inviting table setting!

Leslie in Oregon

Dear Kristi, Your feelings during the party mirrored what I would have felt, and those of your husband mirrored what my husband's would have been. I love, and will draw inspiration from, where you arrived at the end. And bravo not only for getting there but for being willing to jump in and have the party in the first place. Happy Anniversary!

Leisa Hunter Smith

Thoughts of support, and prayers of comfort for you all, especially for your belle-mere.
And thank you for sharing your party with us, and your thoughts. It is all a step at a time, so be kind to yourself. xx

Leslie in Oregon

P.S. to my above comment: Best wishes and heartfelt prayers for your belle-mère's rapid and complete recovery.

Leslie NYC

I didn't start crying until I read Jean-Marc's post to you. Sheer love reduces me to tears. I agree that this is an exceptional post commemorating the most awkward and most blessed moments of a life. Thank you for your continuous and exceptional writing.

Diane in Oregon

Kristi, You are a lucky woman! Congratulations! Go with the flow... of life.


Congratulations Kristi,the party sounds wonderful. Beautiful setting in your garden,music,close friends ,unforgetable!
I love anything French and love to stop by your blog.

Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

AWWW. We love you guys. Thanks for living that authentic and honest life together and sharing it with all of us. Happy Anniversary.

Joan Linneman

My husband and I just celebrated our 40th anniversary, with a party put together by our 3 grown up children. It was so great sharing this milestone with our family: children, grand-children, sisters, brothers, friends, and mother-in-law. My mother-in-law's example was so important to us (behind the scenes) as we were starting out in life, as the REAL adults are to a young couple. She is 82 years young and has been a blessing to everyone who knoews her. We hope the best for your belle mere.
Joan L.

Janine Dorn

Dearest Kristin, I've never commented before but have loved the magic of your writing for a while now. This one was tops! So funny at the start. I so relate to the feeling of "is our party not happening?" and the beginning of the music/awkwardness. Jean-Marc is a love! God bless him! And you, with your openness and humility. So uniquely you. The photos are superb. I love that you let the 19 year olds have at it. What a great lesson to learn, being in the moment. Praying your belle-mère will have a speedy and complete recovery. Thank you for your gift of writing. It's the next best thing to being in la belle France! (And I too cried upon reading Jean-Marc's post)

Andrea Hughes


Happy Anniversary to you and Jean-Marc!

Prayers for your belle-mere that she returns to good health very soon!



Bill in St. Paul

Happy anniversary, Jean-Marc and Kristin! Cute wedding picture!


Happy Anniversary! You are truly a 'dream team'! How much pleasure your fine family must have brought to Jean-Marc's mom over the years!

elizabeth taza

Thank-you for such a lovely story, you inspire & give so much in your gentle words, they always help my day when sometimes things are not easy. Your wedding photo is beautiful, A beautiful family, you all give so much of your life to everyone you deserve every happiness in life

Carolyn  in Vermont

Dear Kristi,

Congratulations on celebrating 20 years together! Sounds like the party was wonderful--wish I could have been there with all of you. I love to dance! Please share pictures of this evening in future posts. And I adore the photo of you from your wedding (civil?) ceremony. Just lovely!

I pray Jean Marc's mom is doing well. I'm behind in reading so I'll skip to the next one in a hurry! Please keep us posted on her. Thank you.

Much love,
Carolyn Dahm


Congratulations Kristin and Jean-Marc. What a beautiful story. The tables look beautiful. I love the image of Jean-Marc twirling you around-*sigh*...So romantic!
I will keep belle-mere in my prayers. XO

Joanne Wallace

Great story! Congrats on the anniversary of 20 years. Love the setting and your house, it is just amazing. Thank you for all the stories.

Joanne Wallace

Linda Lopez

Dear Kristin and Jean-Marc,

What a lovely photo of you two 21 years ago. Happy anniversary! May your blessings only increase with time.

Linda Lopez

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.)