Noël à Paris
This year on Christmas Eve we went to our church’s candlelight service and sang songs and read the birth story of Jesus. Ten years ago we were attempting to celebrate the birth of Christ at Notre Dame in Paris.
It was 1998 and my mother was visiting us in Germany for the holidays. We decided to go to Paris for a couple of days. One of the many things we wanted to do while there was go to Midnight Mass at Notre Dame. Can you imagine!? We toured around Paris all day with the intention of heading over to Notre Dame after dinner. Why we didn’t think that every other tourist and their mothers would be doing the same thing, I don’t know.
I don’t remember what time we actually showed up on the grounds of Notre Dame, but we were not the first ones in line (I must have been off my game what with all the magique of gay Pairee). We weren’t even three of the first one hundred…or five hundred in line. It was packed. The square in front of the church, that is usually busy during the day but definitely manageable, was now impassable due to thousands of people and what had to be miles of chains snaking the thousands of people.
Lines zigged and zagged and the front of the church was a small dot to us–the light coming from the open door barely making its way to our eyes in the darkness. We stood around for a while maybe hoping that we would somehow make it in. Oh, and it was cold. Paris isn’t warm on Christmas like Alabama is. As time crept on we realized that there was no way we were making it in for hymns or Bible readings that night, and we were just standing in the cold for nothing. I can’t remember what we did after that. I’m sure it had something to do with hotel rooms and warm feather beds, and croissants in the morning.
I wish my memory of the details was better. I also wish we had had a digital camera. Not many pictures exist from our four years in Europe. Not as many as I’d like anyway. I remember the feeling of being in Paris for Christmas though. Even more magical than Christmas or Paris by themselves. Add the two together et c’était vraiment un joyeux Noël.