23 December 2008

It's a strange time of year for expats. Below, two European expats tell whether they miss the mistletoe or relish la difference.
Joanna Lamb-White, 45, retired, Le Marche, Italy:
This will be our second Christmas in our Italian casa. Our decorations will honour the style of our adopted country: minimal and classy. We really don’t miss the blatant commercialism and tawdry display so prevalent in Britain. This year, it’s just the two of us, so we might opt for some other Italian Christmas fare - lamb, or agnello, with fresh vegetables picked from our garden and oil pressed from our olives. We’ll visit a few neighbours and take them homemade mince pies, which are popular. They might give us a poinsettia in return, or maybe half a dozen fresh eggs. And there will be a glass or two of chilled prosecco. Buon Natale!
Honor Marks, 43, mum and gîte owner in Languedoc-Roussillon, France: We will be celebrating our second Christmas at our home in Ferrals-les-Corbières, a village nestling between medieval Carcassonne and Roman Narbonne in southern France. It will be just me, my husband, Simon, 39, a builder, and our six-year-old daughter, Holly. Our home is a four-bedroom former wine domaine. We are in the middle of renovations, but work has stopped on our own house while we convert the barns into holiday flats. The kitchen is old and horrible, with an ancient oven that burns everything at 300 degrees, so we have ordered a new, state-of-the-art cooker. Hopefully, it won’t burn the turkey. Until recently, it was difficult to get a turkey; last year, we drove one down from London. I miss lots of things about Christmas in England: the parties and cocktails and glittery dresses. There’s not much need for these in deepest, darkest rural France. Then again, on Boxing Day, it’s a short trip to the ski slopes of the Pyrenees, for the much-needed snow and mulled wine.
Good idea, that, about the home-made mince pies. I must learn how to make the suet-free version!

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