Monday, December 15, 2008

l'Arbre de Noel

This weekend, Bouzigues had the annual l'Arbre de Noel (Christmas Tree) fete. This is an amazing afternoon filled with a play and gifts – a gift for every single child in Bouzigues from 0 to 10 years old.

The first of our 3 hours was spent watching the play “Tralalaie et Tralalouille”. Wow. The play features two characters and a full menagerie of puppets that pop-up behind the actors. Since the entire play was in French (bien sur!), I’m guessing at the meaning of the play. Here goes . . .

A witch was looking for a magic potion to learn to fly. She started by searching for mushrooms for her potion. She searched for the potion in her book of magic spells and poured the potion into a magic machine. The machine produced bubbles! She tried unsuccessfully to fly through the bubbles, landing on the ground – much the to children’s delight!

Next, she beat up the bird puppet to get some magic feathers. She tried to fly using the magic feathers, and this attempt resulted in her crashing into the wall. The children were roaring!

Suddenly, a magic cat puppet appeared. He put a spell on her shoes that made her dance. The dance was very entertaining! She finally kicked off her shoes to break the spell.

Lastly, a vendor appeared above her with a magic lamp. She – of course – bought the magic lamp expecting a genie to emerge. No genie – just a spider!

At this point, the second character joined the play. She was a mime of some type, and I couldn’t’ understand much of what she said. Thus, I tuned out. Also, much to my surprise, the adults sitting in the back 3-4 rows were all talking with normal speaking voices throughout the play!! Given my very rudimentary understanding of the French language, I need to have very minimal ambient noise to hear and understand French. With all the chatter going on, I had no hope!!

The play ended with the witch and the other character passing out giant handfuls of confetti and ribbons. The kids ran around throwing confetti and ribbon for 20 minutes with the characters from the play. They were all in little-kid-heaven!

After the play, the town provided clementines, juice and soda, slices of yummy cake, and lots of candy for the kids. It was really cool. And – it was really smart! As you’ll soon see, the kids really needed that fuel to last through the rest of the afternoon.

About 15 minutes after the goodies were served, Pere Noel arrived!! Pere Noel is Santa Claus in French. He was escorted in by the Mayor of Bouzigues. Pere Noel and the Mayor stood on the stage for the next 2 hours distributing gifts to each and every child in Bouzigues – including Max and Josey. They started with the most recently born and worked their way up to the 10-year olds. Each child was called by name and had a chance to pose with Santa for photos. The Mayor carefully asked each parent if she or he was happy with the photo before calling the next child. It was really cool!

The gifts were awesome, too! I was truly amazed at the community spirit to be found in the villages of France. There were 100s of people in the room throughout the afternoon, and everyone was in high spirits – the children especially.

The children of Max’s age (born in 2002) received either a game (boys) similar to Jenga or an ornament painting set (girls). The children of Josey’s age (born in 1999) received either a set to make and decorate a purse and jewelry (girls) or . . . we still haven’t figured out what the boys received.

Thank you, Bouzigues! This was a fun day, and I was grateful to be included!

Love to all!

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