Is your work good? Truth, Chiaroscuro, and the Creative life
A realization + Bon bout d'an in English

The Carpenter's Gift: A Christmas Story

French Village Christmas tree Sapin in France
Christmas lights in our village of  St Cyr-sur-Mer, South of France

TODAY'S WORD: le menuisier

    : carpenter

ECOUTEZ/LISTEN: hear Jean-Marc pronounce the following sentence: 
Download MP3 or Download Wav

    Le menuisier. Le menuisier a donner à Kristi un cadeau de grand signification.
    Carpenter. The carpenter gave Kristi a meaningful gift.

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

Today, in the seaside town of La Ciotat, I received a gift from a complete stranger after I wandered into his workshop... which turned out to be an antiques store.

"What are you looking for?" he asked with a warm welcome. But there was nothing I could think of. On my way through the shop, packed with intricately-carved armoirs and gilded mirrors, I saw a cross so forgotten that it was camouflaged right into the cold stone wall--a threshold between the showroom and the carpenter shop.

"What about this?" I said. The antiques dealer plucked up the dusty crucifix which was mounted on a threadbare wooden cross.

Gazing at the worn and tattered relic, he suddenly handed it over to me. "It's been here forever. Have it, it's yours.”

The stranger's words lingered in my mind all day, throughout the chaos and the rush before Christmas. Tonight, I finally see the meaning in those last two lines, and I am so grateful for this gift and for the mystery behind it.

Sideview of the crucifix: ripped, frayed, tarnished and long-forgotten.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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How beautiful Kristin! You found the real meaning of Christmas hidden on a back wall in an antiques store. You were meant to have that cross. Jesus is here for all of us if we just seek him. Joyeux Noël!

Heather in Arles

There is so much beauty and importance in this simple tale.
Gros Bisous et Joyeux Fêtes, Kristin! xo

Geraldine Ventura

What a beautiful gift you have received this Christmas! Thank you, Kristin, for sharing it with all of us. Have a Blessed Christmas!

Alyssa Eppich

Lovely, Kristin, and how perfect for the season! Merry Christmas to you and your family from ours here in Maine.

Petrina in Brittany

Dear Kristin,
Thank-you for today's post and for all those wonderful happy/sad stories & photos throughout the year. May you and your family have a Blessed Christmas & Happy, Healthy New Year 2016. Sent with love.

Linda R.

God's gift to man ... freely given, all we need to do is ask and accept ... and, like the shepherds in the stable, come away and let others know. Beautifully written.

Laura C

Absolutely charming, unique cross lovingly created long ago has found its way into your safe, caring hands. Allow the meaning to be an expansive one for you rather than a narrow recruitment attempt. I so much enjoy your open heart blogs throughout the year.

John Backman

Kristin, that story took my breath away. The entire gospel--the entire beauty of human life--in miniature. Blessed Christmas to you.

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Thank you for the gift of sharing yourself, your family, and your home all year.

I will leave you again with my thought for the season: May your hearts be light and your health be strong.

Joyeux Noël

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

P.S. The words that come to mind as I ponder this story again is "seek, and ye shall find."

John said it perfectly. Such few, yet beautiful, words and you reveal the entire essence of Christmas.

Marshall Brass

"a donner".....why infinitive and not past participle?

Marcia Stoub

Beautifully and simply stated..."have it, it's yours "

Thank you, Kristen, for sharing the true meaning of Christmas with these words.

Blessings to you and your family!!


Typo most likely ..donné
But how lovely to give without thought of
return - in the material sense...


Yes - quite a significant gift it is! Merry Christmas Kristin!

Nan Morrissette

A lovely reminder to accept gifts with grace, and to share their stories, at which you are a master. Merry Christmas, dear Kristie.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
A beautiful story... your "cup runneth over".
Christmas blessings~

Debbie Houston

Something freely given, a gift of grace. How appropriate. Merry Christmas, Kristin, and hope you and your family have a healthy and happy new year!

lou bogue

HEllo, belated HAPPY BIRTH DAY, and JOYEUX NOEL to you and yours, one of these days I will come and visit. Love to all, Lou

N vandenberg

How beautiful and timely. Merry Christmas!!

Pamela Wing

That cross is just beautiful. What a lovely story and a lovely thing for the merchant to do. Joyeux Noel to you and your lovely family.


Such a beautiful and meaningful gift. The timing was meant to be! Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel a tous!

Johanna DeMay

Chère Kristi,

What a lovely surprise birthday gift for you! I thought of you as we celebrated mine too. Could not resist sending you our warmest wishes for this holiday and the year ahead.

Johanna & Will
Albuquerque, NM

edie schmidt


A lovely old "find". A most meaningful Christmas gift.
Wishing a Joyeaux Noel to you and your family.

Edie from Savannah

Francine Huffman

This is such a beautiful story, Kristi! I love your blogs and look forward to reading them as they pop up in my emai!l
Warmest wishes to you and your beautiful family for a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2016!


Our dear Kristi,
EVERY story you write is beautiful and inspirational,but the love in this one and the power of its message is something to carry in our hearts all year,ALWAYS.
Blessings to you and your wonderful family.
The pictures are a gift to us.
Joyeux fetes!
Natalia xo


It was the perfect gift for you, Kristi, and you richly deserved it.

Sorry to be a nitpicker, but in the Ecoutez section, shouldn't it be "le menuisier a donné" and "grande signification"?


It's a beautiful beautiful Crucifix. Hope your Christmas is merry and the New Year brings all good things to you and your family, Kristin.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Le menuisier et le charpentier sont synonymes?
Is there a shade of difference between the two words?


A beautiful gift. The best gifts are those that are given seflessly. The cross itself looks like it is made from an old sword. Joyeaux Noel to your family and also your "family" of faithful readers.

Diane Young

Yes, take it it's yours and mine and everyone's who accepts it. What a wonderful Christmas gift. Merci et Joyeux Noel.

Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

The perfect gift: for your birthday, for Christmas, for all of us. Thank you, dear friend, for you are a constant source of inspiration, grace and beauty; reminding me to see what is true. Merry Christmas! I love you.

Diane Heinecke

Kristin--a gift freely given. How symbolic and spiritual. I'm happy you invited Jesus into your home during this blessed season. The crucifix is absolutely beautiful, even if its mounting is a bit frayed. We don't have to be rich or give each other lavish gifts. Your French Word-A-Day is your gift to me! I "wish you enough" in the coming year. Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee.


Love the story, but when I clicked the(click here and scroll through the pictures, I could not see any other pictures. A blank screen came up.
it is so wonderful when someone gives you something without expecting anything in return, just a cadeau.
Joyeux Noël and Bonne Année

Kathleen and Dean from Connecticut


I'd been wondering this too.

Jackie Bonillo

And this is why I keep reading what you write: my nose tingled and my eyes watered as my chest expanded and I felt the welling up of emotion and tears to follow. Bless you and Thank you, Merci Beaucoup
Jackie in Oregon

Marianne Rankin

I was thinking of you, Kristin, on Dec. 22, hoping you would have a happy birthday - I wish you a wonderful year.

Sometimes Jesus' mission (the cross, then Easter) is lost in the attention paid to Christmas. This little story tied them together.

Nylq Witmore

Story, poingnant. It is dawn here in Colorado. I awoke in wee up to read your "Words In A French Life" and on this snowy Christmas morning, I also read your blog. Letting you know once again how thankful I am for the ways in which you share yourself, your family, and how you enrich m life by expanding my vocabulary in French. jOyeux Noel"

Hi Kristin. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas. Question: On the sentence regarding Le Menuisier. Le menuisier a donner un ... Shouldn't it be "a donné" since it is past tense? I am only asking because I'm learning French and have never seen it written that way.
Thanks, and wish you all a great New Year 2016.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you all for the thoughtful comments. And to those who asked about the example sentence, it does contain errors. Very sorry about this. 

Shirley B.

What a splendid find! Kristin, and so kind of the shop owner to give it to you. (In keeping with the season).I cannot get over your computer skills. After looking at your pictures, I feel as I could identify as one of the family. So
many interests and activities. I'm 83 now, so don't do much other than
wear out my recliner. Keep trying to achieve more than a 24 hour day as you do now. The rewards are so great! A very happy and healthy New Year to you all. Shirley

Anne V.

What a lovely Christmas find!

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