Saturday, December 24, 2011

What to Leave Out for Santa

Living in France, the most difficult thing, by far, has been having to explain to our kids why Santa behaves so differently when visiting our house, than that of their little French friends. In France, children are encouraged to stay UP and wait for le Père Noël , while in the U.S. we tell our kids that if they are not in bed sleeping, Santa WON'T come. I have interrogated my French friends at length about this because I wondered how parents manage to sneak gifts under the tree while their children are engaged in a mini-stake out. The answers I received varied. Most said that they take the kids outside and distract them somehow (usually by looking up in the sky for unusual air traffic) while an accomplice puts the presents under the tree. Then, when the kids come back in, the person inside will say, “Oh you JUST missed le Père Noël!" Some friends reported that their parents went so far as to HIRE someone to dress up and pose as le Père Noël (although apparently you gotta be careful where you find your Père Noël 'cause one year my friend Sophie said she remembers the guy her parents hired showed up smelling strongly of gin).
What people leave OUT for Santa also varies widely in Europe. In the States it is your standard cookies and milk and maybe some carrots for the reindeer. In England and Australia, Santa’s treated to a glass of sherry with minced pie. While in Wales and Ireland, they leave out a pint of Guinness(because Guiness goes with everything) and cookies, mince pie or Christmas pudding, depending on the house. Santa gets a stiff drink to help him stay warm through the night in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Sometimes a particular elf or gnome will get risgrynsgrot, a bowl of rice porridge made with cinnamon, sugar and milk. Personally, I'm shocked there hasn't been a history of airline disasters over Europe on Christmas Eve seeing that Santa is most likely driving drunk. I mean, even if he only had a small SIP at each house, he'd still be loaded by like, the twentieth house or so, right? Oh, wait, I forgot he's got a designated driver (Rudolph). Joyeux Noël à tous!

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