Posted tagged ‘Christmas in Strasbourg’

Let Heaven And Nature Sing

December 24, 2009

Would it be blasphemy to say that a good bottle of Riesling is a perfect expression of the harmony between heaven and nature?  I guess that depends entirely on your perspective.  Personally, although I’m much more of a red wine person, I am finding the Alsatian white wines to be pretty heavenly.

Some of you would surely prefer this old crêche in the Strasbourg cathedral, although I have my doubts about the natural correctness of an elephant in the manger.

Although I’m no expert on crêches, being noncroyante, a non-believer from the get-go, I personally loved this homey little one we saw yesterday in a restaurant in Germany.  The nature part looks better to me, and I’ll leave it to you to decide on the heavenly harmony part.

As far as nature goes, this big tree looks right at home amidst the typical Alsatian architecture,

although on a drizzly Christmas Eve morn I have to say that this twinkling bright blue tree hit the heavenly high note.

We’ve spent the day wandering through the Christmas markets and department stores, in the best tradition of last-minute shopping, a tradition which I’m here to testify is alive and well in France.  People didn’t seem grumpy or stressed out though, not even when I arrived at the bakery this morning at a little after 8:00 only to find that I was the 24th person in line outside the shop, not to mention the dozen or so people already inside, each of us there to lay claim to the most beautiful bûche de Noël possible for tomorrow’s dessert.  A shopgirl was walking up and down the line of people waiting in the drizzle, offering little cups of coffee, which I thought was an especially nice touch.

Now, at 6:00 p.m., the air is full of the endless chiming of the cathedral bells, signaling the closing of the shops and the end to the commercial part of Christmas.  Later tonight, after what I’m hoping will be a really festive restaurant dinner, non-believers though we may be, we’ll try to squeeze into the midnight Mass at the cathedral.  “Be here at 11:00 sharp” the church concierge told me conspiratorially, “by 11:15 the cathedral will be completely full.”

Afterwards, although there’s no snow, we’ll wander sleepily past the little town of Bethlehem, which just happens to be right outside our door.

And so I wish you all a silent night, a holiday full of love and joy, and I hope you sing as much as possible, whether with heaven or nature, making your own sweet music with whatever choir suits your fancy.