Thursday, December 08, 2005

I'm Comin' Home . . .

For Christmas.


I don't know if I've mentioned it on here before, although I know I've talked about the New Year's Eve wedding I will be attending. It's in Pennsylvania! I'm going to be visiting a town I've never been to before! Besides that, I will be opening lots of little presents at Christmas. The Christmases I've spent in France were really fun. La Belle-Famille is very welcoming, and I have experienced all the French holiday traditions: escargots, oysters, the cr
èche under the tree, the TV bloopers on New Year's Eve . . . But nothing compares to my childhood memories of stockings, fireplaces, the crèche on top of the TV, and our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of coldcuts and Californias.

I also absolutely love unwrapping surprises, which just can't happen in Jube's family. Everyone knows what they will get, and they only get one thing. That's fine if you want one big present--but I also love unwrapping my mother's practical gifts. We always receive toothbrushes, deoderant, and underwear, although she stopped giving feminine hygiene products after one ended up in my brother's stocking (he was extremely disappointed!). Jube doesn't understand that I want a surprise for Christmas. Every year, I try to give him hints, but he doesn't remember them. By the end of November, he is actually asking me outright what I want, and if I don't tell him, he gets upset. I know that Jube really loves me and cares about me because he can't stomach the idea of giving me a gift I might like only a little bit. But I like the surprise just as much! [Of course, he has also seen the home videos of my 10-year-old self almost breaking down in tears on Christmas morning because my step-father gave me clothes! It was a really good idea, but badly timed--one year later and I would have been overjoyed. And of course it was all caught on camera . . .]

In order to go back to the States, I had to get my papers in order. That means: a trip to the Prefecture. Ugh. In September, I had received a récipissé allowing me to work, and expiring in December. I was told to come back two months later to pick up the permanent resident card. I waited a bit longer to give them more time, and made the decision to venture back today. Yesterday we called them to make sure we knew the opening times. The first time we called, we were told that they were open between one and two pm, but "why are you asking? The times are written on the récipissé." Uhh, no, they weren't. We decided to call back again to clarify this, and were given a totally different response: "You are not to come back unless you have received a convocation in the mail." By this time, I was ready to cry and I hadn't even been to the Prefecture yet. It didn't seem to be shaping up as the best bureaucratic trip ever.

We arrived at around 1:15pm, and waited in the relatively short (!) line
. When it was our turn, I opened my mouth to speak, and this came out: "Bonbonjour madadame, je mumble mumble carte de séjour mumble mumble a pas recu une convocation mais mumble mumble." Jube looked at me, horrified. He quickly took over and explained that all we wanted to do was pick up my resident card. No, it wasn't ready yet, but they extended my récipissé, which is just as good (except that it means we have to go back in another 3 months). I couldn't believe myself--even if the Prefecture experience isn't bad, I manage to create my own problems. After that harrowing linguistic experience, Jube got his international driving license with no problems, and we came back home. I just want my family to know what I went through for them. Maybe they can buy me some presents to make up for it!


Robyn said...

Gem I think you should never go back to that place! It seems to cause you so much stress :)

Sammy said...

My regular Carte de Sejour was sent to the Mairie of my village. I recieved a letter in the mail telling me to go pick it up there.

Hope you'll have the same luck.

Samantha said...

I feel your pain, my préfecture sucks ass! They keep making things up all the time, and I can never get a straight answer out of them.

And I know what you mean about the French and present-giving. Fab's family always gives one big present to each person, and it's never a surprise. I asked for a good set of kitchen knives this year, but apparently it's bad luck to give knives, so who knows what I'll end up with. Probably yet another set of plates, cuz that's what I've gotten for the last two years (anyone need a dinner set??).

PS. A new year's eve wedding sounds so cool, what a great idea!

Gem said...

I really can't wait for the wedding, I think it's a great idea too. I just wish that we would have more time to recover--the day after, we fly back to France!