Mangeoire: a most meaningful French word
To wish + Heureuse année, bonnes resolutions, and to get on one's nerves!

A Mystery: Diriger, benir, and the anonymous gift we received

The mysterious card we received in the mail and what was inside... in today's story.

TODAY'S WORDS: diriger & benir

        : to direct and to bless


De temps en temps, Dieu me dirige à envoyer quelques choses à un/des amis. Voilà. Que Dieu te benisse. (Anonymous) From time to time, God directs me to send something to a/some friends. There you have it. May God bless you.

ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the example sentence: Download Diriger-benir

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Last month we received an anonymous letter in the mail--along with 50 euros in cash! The envelope came addressed to M et Mme JM Espinasse, in what looked to be French penmanship. (The sender, in writing our home number, had rounded the tail of the "9". We don't write like that back home in Arizona (unless we've spent time abroad and are smitten)--neither do we cross our 7s, as seen in the way the sender composed our zip code.)

This letter was not sent by an American. Or was it?

Looking at the billet I wondered, was it a donation? Was it even for me? No, the envelope had been addressed to both of us--Mr and Mrs--and yet...the end of the letter addresses only one of us as seen in the closing line which includes te (and not vous)....

Inside the card read:

De temps en temps, Dieu me dirige à envoyer quelques choses à un/des amis. Voilà. Que Dieu te benisse. (From time to time, God directs me to send something to a/some friends. There you have it. May God bless you.)


"It has to be for you," Jean-Marc insisted. "It's from one of your blog readers."

On the card was a photograph of an antique gown, its dusty rose silk intricately embroidered. My eyes combed the letter, the envelope (from the Musée des Tissus de Lyon...) and the bill for clues--moved by the mystery until another sentiment arose: la culpabilité

I can think of a lot of people who need cash more than me... There was one of my neighbors, for one. There were whole families I had met, thanks to my Mom, in Mexico. And what about all the refugees who had recently lost their temporary shelter in Calais? Who were we to be receiving any kind of aide?

Then, a small voice spoke to me. It is a gift. The gift is for you. Who are you to refuse it?

Picking up the 50 euro billet, turning it over in my hand, I thought about putting it in a capsule and burying it in the garden of the home we were looking at. Would this symbolic deposit secure it for us? But what if we didn't end up in that house? The money would turn to compost!

I hid the bill in my desk and decided to wait for direction. The next few days I refused to be a bank when my family came knocking. "Mom. Can you spare 5 euros?" or "Cherie, tu as des sous?", unwilling to let the gift go to teenage whims or to pay the ramoneur (Jean-Marc would just have to write a check for the chimney sweeper! There would be a more meaningful use for this bank note!!)


One week later I had an urge to invite my husband on a date. "Veux-tu balader avec moi? Would you like to walk on the beach and then go and get ice cream?"

Collecting the 50 euros from its hiding place, I joined Jean-Marc who had finished some vineyard chores. There, in the middle of a busy week, we experienced a peaceful reprieve. Sitting on the board walk in Les Lecques, our legs dangling over the edge, we savored locally made ice cream--passion fruit for him, chocolate mint for me! Next, we moved our towels to the sandy beach and took a nap, bercé by the sounds of winter on the Mediterranean - a woman walking her dog, a man taking a break from his construction job to peel of his work clothes and swim in the sea, and a father playing ball with his young son, by the pier. In the midst of this, a vigneron and his wife held hands. Our eyes closed, we listened to the seagulls call as they flew over our heads, high in the sky.

When we returned home I dug into my jeans pocket and carefully tucked the change--two twenties and many coins--back into the gift's safe place. Hidden in a little box there it was, le cadeau precieux: Time in Suspension. Time standing still, succulent, savoreux, delectable like le fruit de la passion.

Merci beaucoup, M ou Madame Anonymous. The gift has since been taken out for use along the Port of Bandol, where time froze once again when I caught up with a good friend over fizzy drinks (deux Pérriers citrons). I've tucked the change--another two bills and more coins!--back into its safe place. The gift seems to multiply, like blessings mentioned in your mysterious letter. Que Dieu te benisse.

la culpabilité = guilt
chéri(e) = dear
balader = to walk
un vigneron = wine farmer, wine maker
bercer = to rock
savoreux = savory
le fruit de la passion = passion fruit
deux Perriers citrons = two Perriers with lemon

Family Christmas photo taken at home in front of a crop of sunflowers--flowering in December!

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Mary liz

Thanks again for reminding me that there is more to life than lists of " to do" chores, work, obligations. How lovely you managed to steal away some time with your husband.
Such s beautiful picture of your family. I do hope your daughter is feeling better. My daughter also had mono. It does knock them oit.
Happy holidays!
Mary Liz
Washington DC

Robyn Mixon

What a wonderful story to remind us all we are very much in charge of creating those special moments where time is a treasure and the memory stays with us. I love your idea of putting this 50 Euro bill away for that purpose--we can all do the same--and put a little cash in a secret place and create special moments in the present which will remind us of being blessed. Happy New Year to you all--hope your new venture is an adventure.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

A gift sincerely given and so sweetly accepted. A gem which became a treasure chest of gleaming jewels. This is a beautiful story...


an absolutely lovely way to start the day, thank you. (You have 1 extra letter, in culpabilité)


What a beautiful way to use that gift! A little ice cream and a peaceful, mindful trip to the beach. May you have many more such lovely moments in 2017. I have the feeling that gift will go a very long way indeed.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

And the gift goes on and on, multiplying the joy of giving many times. Merci Kristi!


What a wonderful way to use the gift. I love the little dress on the cover of the card.
Your Christmas card is lovely - you have a beautiful family including Smokey.

Marie LaSalle

The gift that keeps on giving.pour vous, pour toi. Pour nous.

A moment of levity:

Je suis ici a la pleine brume, première tasse de café sur la table, la maison toujours en mi-obscurité lisant d'une belle journée à la plage d'hiver -l'imagination me rendant calme et tranquille et puis je mal lis:

And then we moved our bowels along the beach:

Hey it was dark - I hadn't had my coffee and I will say it gave me a good laugh


I love this, The kindness, the time with your sweetheart, the time spent with a friend...those times can never be recovered. What a wonderful gift, to allow yourself time. Wishing you a Wonderful 2017!


And your telling of that gift is a gift to all of us. Beautiful and merci.


Stolen moments are the best. I read this story while on our way to lose ourselves at the Met Museum in NYC. A lovely way to spend a day during the holidays.

Patricia Sands

The essence of everything beautiful is gratitude. And this is a beautiful post.

Not sure if the French have this saying or not, "Never look a gift horse in the mouth!" SO glad you enjoyed your glace by the oceans. We enjoyed dinner at le Train Bleu" at Gare de Lyon this afternoon. Went to Fontainebleau only to find it is closed for the holidays (and always on Tuesday) so we enjoyed the sculptures all covered in tarps to keep warm!!

joie in Carmel



You found an absolutely perfect way to use this lovely gift--taking the time to do something special with loved ones in your life, rather than just spending it on necessities.

I stared at the unusual photo of the gown. Did you notice that the closure looks kind of like a crucifix? That the whole gown is shaped like a cross? And it was sent during the Christmas season.


Our dear Kristi,
What an absolutely beautiful story!
Once again you have filled us with the hope of this beautiful season (and ALL seasons!)First of all, to accept the kindness of a gift given in sincerity,
And then to share(and enjoy!)it with someone else in the same spirit in which it was given.
What more perfect way to end this year and begin the next?
You always are an inspiration!
Thank you!
Natalia. Xo


Sooo Beautiful Kristin.. Take time(NO Amount of money shall give you more)with you special love one. The gift was indeed a Gift for you. Love, Live, spend Time because we know not how much more we have.. Sounds a bit off considering it was money given to you but it 'made' you think and savor what you were to do with the gift>THAT was/is important. Love and the Very best wishes for you and Jean-Marc. Take care of her Sweetie>she is Your Precious, Loving Gift.. Mollie

Patty Johnson

An especially lovely post! Merci!

Judith Dunn

....Dear Kristin... What a wonderful and inspiring experience you had! I love how you used your gift wisely and enjoyed 'making a memory' with JM! sometimes it is the serendipitous moments in life that we enjoy the most! I try and encourage others to do a random 'act of kindness' each day , if possible. It brings the biggest pop of joy to you and the unsuspecting one that you can imagine! It looks like Jackie is rallying from her illness in the photo of all of you. How happy does that make everyone? Yea! for Jackie! I hope the New Year will bring happiness with your new beginnings in life! Savor the time in the paradise you and JM created, wallow in your love for each other and take great pride in your delightful family! Bonne Annee! Judi Dunn, Tallahassee, Fl.


A simply beautiful story...thanks for sharing!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

Love this story! You are using the gift just as the giver would want you to! How sweet! Wishing you and your family a wonderful New Year!

Sue J.

So lovely!

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Thanks for the sharing an unexpected gift that, like a seed, continues to blossom onward -- including its flowering for us here, our hearts lifted by its lovely story of quiet generosity still unfolding. And what a joy to see the new photo of Smokey's family all together!

Leslie NYC

Someone once reminded me that if I value generosity, I have to learn to ACCEPT generosity too. It isn't always easy, but it is a magical lesson!

Dawn Johnson

When the giving is inspired by the Lord, it is to be anonymous because they receive their reward in heaven. Rather than boasting about it. It can be so hard to be on the receiving end but it was that person's desire to bless you both. I think you are using it perfectly. What a sweet lovely story. May your family be blessed this Christmas season and throughout the new year.

Warren C. Plauche

I believe your anonymous gift to be a 97 year old North Tongoese Barfing Jacket for a child of about 8 months of age. It should never be folded or sprayed with any oily beauty product. Folding will break it in half, beauty products will dissolve the outer layer of air dried tinted guano.
Defacing a Tongoese Barfing Jacket carries terrible semi-religious consequences but no one has ever done it, so we don't know what the consequences are. Because of this grave threat, Barfing Jackets are gifted like fruitcakes - passing from one to another on and on forever. Happy, sappy New Year!


I always marvel at the gentle way you find blessings in your everyday life. I am learning so much from you.
God bless you and have a Happy New Year!

Kristine, Dallas


The biggest blessing a person can give is to give to one who can not repay the blessing.

Although a practicing Methodist, I've studied a lot about Judaism and because it's Hanukkah and I love this concept I'm sharing this with you.

As you know, at Chanukah one lights a candle for each night: one the first night, two the second, up until eight lights on the last night. But there is also an additional candle, the shamash, meaning "servant." The reason for this candle is that one is are not allowed to use the regular Chanukah lights for their own use; it is the job of the shamash to provide the light if it's needed for some utilitarian purpose. So, Kristi, go be the servant light to someone else.

Happy New Year!


This story was beautiful!! Thank you for the blessings. Just lovely! God bless, C-Marie

Kim Arnold

Just lovely, Kristi.

But "North Tongoese Barfing Jacket???"

That's a joke, right?

Joan L.

Warren: I don't believe a word....

This is my take on it: It's an early prototype for a garment worn by dolls (later called American Girl Dolls, sold for exorbitant prices in fine upscale shops of major cities throughout the USA). This prototype was meant to be worn by Nefretiti "princess" dolls from ancient Egyptian culture (sold for exorbitant prices in tourist shops near construction sites for the pyramids). It's a known fact that King Tut, the boy king, met his demise trying to snag the last one for his little sister, who had been begging for one for months.

Someone else's turn....

Marie Hélène Sneed

Bonjour à vous 2 , d'Atlanta , ma nouvelle ville d'adoption

Interesting personal story !
In My Humble Opinion, the letter may have been written by a Canadian or another French speaking country resident!
It shows Mr et Mme E ..though In France we use M et Mme
And the use of TE is awkward ! ( more typical of a Canadian.. My brother lives in Toronto!)
Anyway, It is sweet, generous and uplifting!
Bonne et heureuse Année dans votre nouveau village bien réputé !
Marie Hélène

Fred Caswwell

Your blogs bless your readers, great photo of the famille, et bonne anne a tous! Comme toujours

joie in Carmel

You mentioned thinking of burying the money at your next place. I have a better idea. If you have even a small amount of the money left, buy seeds or a small plant with it and plant it wherever you end up. You will be putting down roots in a new, beautiful, positive way.

cynthia lewis

Happy New Year to all !! Your Christmas family photograph is wonderful. Thanks so much. Also, your charming story today about the mysterious gift gives insight into the manner in which to accept a gift. You are using the gift in a wise and thoughtful way. My best wishes.

Judi in Lake Balboa

Oh the sweetness oflove, of time spent with each other. This can never be treasured more highly than anything else. Oh to hold his hand one more time... you are indeed blessed and so wise to take advantage of fleeting moments! Two days later and your story still brings tears to my eyes. Pure and sweet. Bless the giver and double bless you for accepting and using the gift so very wisely!


Wonderful! Such a lovely gift of time and, ultimately, Presence. I'm late to comment, having been busy tending to my seemingly never-ending 'to do' list, and this is a timely reminder to pause, whenever possible, for however long, and savour. Merci, Kristi!

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