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La Canne à Pêche: A Highly Amusing (Economic & Time-Saving) Gift Exchange!

Joyeux Noël: A Christmas Message from Kristi

Emmaus charity shop La Ciotat
I love this scene, photographed a year or so ago at our local Charity shop, Emmaus.

Today’s Word: Joyeux Noël

  : Merry Christmas! 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
I would like to share a reader comment that is helping me to keep the faith, no matter how many times I stumble, on this, the final countdown to Noël: Help me to recall it again now...

"The spirit of Christmas is in the love you share and give and has nothing to do with decorations, gifts or money. Delight in those gathered near and good times spent together. These are fleeting and a blessing to be cherished. Joyeux Noël & Bonne Année."

And here are Jo-Anne Yurosko's words in French, translated by Chatgpt, to underline the point....

"L'esprit de Noël réside dans l'amour que vous partagez et donnez, et n'a rien à voir avec les décorations, les cadeaux ou l'argent. Réjouissez-vous de ceux qui sont réunis près de vous et des bons moments passés ensemble. Ceux-ci sont éphémères et une bénédiction à chérir. Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année."

Thank you, Jo-Anne, for this heartening message. Each time I read it it evokes a new reaction--most recently tears. I really struggle with the Christmas season, and I am beginning to understand why: apart from my birthday being tossed into the flurry, it is the influx and bombardment of "things", the tornado of shoulds and expectations that keep me anxious and too distracted to enjoy the festivities. Thank you for the reminder that times with our loved ones are fleeting. Let's show each other love and affection by delighting in this time together, looking past our differences and, indeed, our personal failures, forgiving each other's flub-ups or transgressions. It is easier said than done, plus facile à dire qu'a faire, especially when we are focused on the imminent deadline that is Commercial Christmas and all the "trimmings" that go with it. From stocking stuffers to Turkey stuffing our minds are packed with the details of the Yuletide season.

It's not too late to take the focus off these fabricated devoirs that run us around like hopeless slaves, blinded to the message behind Christmas:

Peace on Earth...
good will to men...

Signing off now to enjoy Advent, or these few days leading up to Christmas. And if I should stumble, Lord, I thank you for your most precious gift: le salut. The Gift of Salvation. Joyeux Noël, dear Reader. Take good care and I will check in with you next week with another progress report.

Bien amicalement,


To leave a message, click on this link to the comments box. Merci beaucoup.

Soundfile: for today's recording Jean-Marc and I are reading aloud Jo-Anne Yurosko's words cited at the opening of this letter. Listen in French, then go back and read the quote:

Click here to listen to the French and English audio file

Sapin de Noel French Alps
A wooden Christmas tree in the French Alps.

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Christmas lights in the old port of la ciotat
Deck the hulls! Christmas decorations at the Old Port here in La Ciotat

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

Suzanne dunaway

Don’’t feel alone. Christmas and all of its changes since childhood (!) has un all wishing it were OVER. We need nothing but our friendships and love among those friends and family that we cherish. Maybe we should all start giving away the $$ we spend to those who really need it, and there are so many, so many. Love from us and an exciting New Year full of adventures. Joyeux nöel et bonne année and peace for all.


Joyeayx Noël et Joyeux Anniversaire Kristi!

Janet Haagensen

Kristi thank you for your comments about the Christmas season. It is so easy to get worn down by lists and thoughts about things to do. With the children grown up and flown the nest, parents all passed away it is too easy to track back to former times than focus on the blessings of today. A happy marriage, settled boys one with two young girls that we are going to see on Christmas Day.
I am so aware of how things can change in a flash as I grow older. Next year I will be 73.
Anyway, bonne noel and joyeux anniversaire Kristi from me also.

Marilyn Whalley

Dear Kristi, so beautifully written. The word “fleeting” has made me reflect on all my present blessings espeially treasured family members and friends.
Bonne anniversaire et joyeux Noel, Mazzie


Dear Kristi, thank you for this important message as I certainly need to hear it also! Joyeux Noel and Bonne Anniversaire! Wishing you all the best! xoxo


Dear Kristi
Joyeaux Noël et bonne anniversaire. J’espère la season est calme et rewarding for you and ta familia. Bobbi

John Jenks

Even after 20+ years, you are the best!

Lynn McBride

Such a lovely Christmas message, thank you! A very merry Christmas to you and all the family.

Cerelle Bolon

Dear Kristi, Thank you for sharing this beautiful and SO true message. As I grow older, I find that one needs to 'simplfy'. Traditons are wonderful but there are ways to make things easier. You have many in your family and you can delagate and share the responsibilites as well as the LOVE. What is too much, can be dropped or changed. As we say here, 'Don't sweat the small stuff, and it is ALL small sturff". Hold on to the people you love and they will hold on to you. God bless you and enjoy the true meaning of Christmas.


Peace on Earth . . . Good Will to Men. Beautiful reminder. Christmas blessings to you and your family.

Gail in Arizona

Merry Christmas Kristi! Thank you for sharing these wise words. Anxiety is aggravated if we listen to marketers telling us to hurry up and buy, as if buying would satisfy. I have pushed back against most of these feelings this year. It is not easy. Your words are gifts from above guiding us back to the light of the season. The true meaning of our celebrations. God bless you and your family!

Suzanne in Monroe, NJ

We don't exchange gifts anymore. What do we really need? Lights to keep the dark at bay, some decorations to sparkle in the lights, good food, sharing memories and making new ones. I have decorated but haven't managed to get the tree up from the basement. I'd rather spend the time preparing Christmas dinner for friends. Our garlands and winter scenes on the bookcases remind us of the season. I am looking forward to a restful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and I am sure I'll remember the times I have spent with you and Jean-Marc! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Joyeux Noël & Bonne Année Kristi!
Thank you Jo-Anne!


Merci beaucoup & Bonne anniversaire! May the new year ahead bring you health, happiness and many delightful moments to inspire you. I am pleased that my words resonated with you. So often I have to remind myself to scale back and focus on why we celebrate this special season. It is too easy to get carried away with expectations. Savor the days spent with family and friends & don’t forget to breathe and relax every day. We all need this daily.

Marianne S. Rankin

Hi, Kristi,

I was reading somewhere about CPSD - "Christmas Preparation Stress Disorder." Many people feel it. I used to have a Christmas countdown calendar to make sure everything got done. Now that I am finally retired, it is easier. And I see myself downsizing. Our decorations are stored in the attic (our house has no garage, basement, or pantry), and as it gets more challenging to navigate the pull-down staircase, I've given away our large artificial tree with preinstalled lights, animal decorations for outside, etc. I use little trees (2 feet tall or so) and put family-made ornaments on them. Other heirloom items (napkins, wreath for door, etc.) are our main decorations. For me, one could take away most of the "trappings" of Christmas, and if I still have the music, that would be enough. I do send some cards with messages/letters in them. I think it's possible to achieve a balance between enough and too much. I make traditional Danish Christmas cookies each year and send them to my brother, who loves them; that is his annual gift. As far as helping the needy, for the last several years, my son's gift to me has been a contribution to Heifer Project International, for less advantaged people; this year he gave a sheep, as did I. The most important message is for us to try to love everyone, and to retain the Christmas spirit all year. Meilleurs voeux a tous!

Janine Cortell

Thank you Kristi for this wonderful message.
I have for years asked my children to donate to my favorite charity instead of gifts.
There is nothing I need and so many people who really need help.
Je te souhaite joie et bonne sante en 2024.

Rosalind Mustafa

What others expect is just that, their expectations. And yes, easier said than done to ignore what they expect of us. Start small. Find a way to do and manage smaller. What we tear from our soul is not worth the rending for them. While I spend energy worrying about their disappointment, my own disappointment in me swells. Seek peace within my dear Kristi. They will be ok if you celebrate smaller. They will love you still. Be at peace . Joyeux Noël.


Our dear Kristi,
You are a blessing in all of our lives, and the messages you impart to us are nothing short of a gift that fills us with inspiration, hope,and light.Not many can so beautifully and sucessfully reach out to others the way you always do.
Thank you ,dear Kristi.
Happy birthday,ma chere,and many more in health and happiness.
Arms tight around all if you with wishes for Joyeux Noel et meilleurs nouvelle annee!
Natalia. Xo

Dr Abdul Malik

Wishing you a joyous Holiday Season -Joyeuses Fetes.

P.S. Merci a vous for all your wrings full of delight,

Diane Heinecke

Dear Kristi,

YOU are a gift! I needed the message you sent. There are so many times that you have discussed your challenges and ups & downs and they resonate with me. You are "ma psychiatre favorite."

Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année à toute la famille!


Oh ! Thank you!! That was a much needed reminder.
came at just the right time.
May you have a Christmas full of peace and love

Judy Feldman

Kristi, this is such a beautiful post, and I love Jo-Anne’s quote. I’ve shown it to several people, and will continue to do so during the next days. Wishing you and your family the very best holiday, being together, and being grateful!

Frances in Napa, CA USA

Those words are so true. This time of year the most important thing for me is time - the very best gift of all. Time spent with friends, family, our dear animals, and soaking up an enjoying our world outside of our doors.

I remind myself of that when I can't listen to one more holiday song or when I feel lonely. My father died in 2008 on December 26 so this is a time when I remember the dear people I loved who are no longer here.

I will save the quote you shared - it is good to remember those words. I am grateful also for the fact that you write and share with us.


Marianne Rankin

Kristin, happy birthday on December 22! Don't let another year get you down. Like fine wine or cheese, one improves with time. Have a wonderful day!


I am repeating what has been said but is ...oh so very true.
You, dear Krsti, are a gift to us, your readers.
You are using your gift of words to encourage folks around the world.
The bright spot of life and love and reality in your own Kristi way brings us a breath of fresh air in a world that can often feel frightening and overwhelming.
Thanks dear friend!


What a timely message,Kristi! So right on about the spirit of the season. Certainly many good hearts begin and are nurtured at home. Then we are better able to go forth and share the love and forgiveness we have experienced and learned.
Bon anniversaire! Dans ma famille nous avons, comme vous, pas un mais deux anniversaires ce mois. Ma nièce était née le 17 et mon fils était né le 22. Les deux sont les étoiles de la saison. Il y a beaucoup de fêtes avec la musique et les gateaux cette semaine!
Amitiés, Joanne

Karen in Northport, NY

A beautiful message! Thank you. And, surprise, family has revamped the 7 fishes extravaganza to a simpler and shorter meal. So off I go to enjoy the loved ones without the 3 day malaise
that followed. Yup, we're getting older and the trappings aren't all that important. Joyeaux noel a tout and bonne anniversaire a vous. Bisous and a virtual American hug. New year's rez, I am going to use more french. If I don't have time to check it, I expect it to be pretty bad. Apologies in advance. 🎁🤶🎅🎶🎄💞

Stacey Christie

Joyeux Noël et bonne année à vous et votre famille.


Dear Kristi,

You are a treasure! Love is the reason for the season! As I’ve grown older, it has become easier to prioritize my peace over stressing over the things that truly don’t matter. My holidays have also changed dramatically in the last few years as I’ve lost many family members. Being together with our loved ones is what makes any day memorably special! I hope you’re enjoying precious time with your family. Joyous New Year!


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