There are moments in my life that I cherish. Little rituals I look forward to. What’s funny is that an awful lot of them include champagne.
But, here’s the thing, it’s actually not the champagne that I care about.
Well, ok, that’s not true either. I love the bubbly stuff. The first sip as it dances and fizzes on your tongue. That’s pretty awesome as far as sensations go.
What I love most though is that when I bring that glass down I’m in a time and space that’s life at it’s finest.
I’m surrounded by friends, family, good moods, and the connection that I live for.
In fact, if there is any “thing” I aim to embody, it’s champagne. Light, bubbly, sparkly, fun, and the good stuff has some depth.
Celebrating, appreciating, connecting, relaxing, deeper conversation, enjoying the moment….
Think back to a wedding, holiday, birthday, etc. where the slim little flutes are passed around with everyone waiting in anticipation.
Then cheers, santé, chin-chin, smiles, delight…
There is so much life in those moments, so much joy. Everyone forgets their troubles for just a second. I wish every day had a little champagne.
I envision I’ll be that spunky grandma pulling out a bottle of bubbly for any and all accomplishments!
“I lived through the day!” “Hooray” “Break out the champagne!”
In many parts of France and Europe it’s tradition to look the other person in the eye while you clink glasses. There’s little myths or jokes that surround it.
You can remind someone, ”7 years bad sex” if you don’t get an adequate stare down. Here’s a funny article “7 of
the world’s most interesting drinking customs” that outlines this and other hilarious drinking traditions from around the world!
It might seem silly but it brings a real glue and lightness to the table, to the group. And while it might take some time and effort to make sure you clink glasses and make eye contact with everyone at the table I think “what else would we be doing?”
Because, it’s these simple customs that make everyone feel included. Even the little children are involved. We smile and laugh, while simultaneously watching their glasses like hawks, as they mimic the adults and clink their little glasses of orange juice with ours.
In France, there exists a wonderful tradition called “L’Apéritif.” It takes many forms but typically includes an alcoholic beverage and bite sized salty snacks to open up the appetite.
In my husband’s home it’s customarily sparkling wine accompanied by olives, hard salami, tiny cubes of soft cheese, cute little chips, nuts, crudités, etc.
The glasses are small and the point is, not to get drunk, but to have a small social interlude where you can catch up without anyone having to put on a big to-do.
My in-laws just keep a few bottles in the fridge and a few snacks handy and they’re always ready to propose someone stay for an apéro.
It can be before lunch and/or before dinner. Sometimes it’s just a quick hello and everyone goes their separate ways for their meal.
Sometimes the conversation and company is so enjoyable you end up pulling out more and more until it’s late into the night.
Often times it’s planned this way. Instead of a plated meal everyone sits around the table passing around drinks and small hors-d’eouvres.
Last month we were in Nantes, France where my husband Alex is from. Alex’s parents invited many of their lifelong friends over for an apéritif dinner.
My in-laws love to entertain. They have their friends over often. It’s wonderful to see these couples time and time again. They are very invested in Alex and I. They remember 11 years ago when I was just the awkward American mute or mime at the table. They would try so hard to connect with me. Desperately trying to remember any English they might know. We laugh about that now and I get compliments on my vastly improved French. Compliments that make me glow.
You see, learning French is still the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And, I’ve had 3 children! And 20 some jobs!
For me, it’s not the grammar or vocabulary (although those are a beast too) it’s the french accent. I can say something perfectly and because I don’t throw one syllable in the back of my throat and growl it out I might as well be speaking Bosnian. Funny but true. And, since I’ve taught myself and never been lucky enough to study French formally it makes it that much harder.
These friends of the family have now watched our journey from Sun Valley, ID, long distance Paris-SLC, marriage, and now 3 little French-Americans. Some have even visited us in the states.
I always say we’ll spend our older, calmer years in France. Sharing that same lifelong bond with Alex’s childhood friends that Alex’s parents enjoy with their friends.
Alexandre has amazing friends. Many of them have known each other since they were 3 and 4. Now several of us have children that same age.
Many members of this well-established friend group were able to meet in Rennes last month for the 2nd annual friends family weekend.
Ludo and Sophie have a beautiful property there. It’s straight out of a dream. Roses, hammocks, fresh tomatoes from the garden, plenty of room for the kids to play.
The whole weekend revolved around the table. L’apéritif, main course, cheese and salad, dessert, cleanup, L’apéritif, main course, cheese and salad, dessert, cleanup.
Sometimes it felt like we were eating non-stop yet, I never felt uncomfortably full. How is this so?
I LOVE L’apéritif and we have brought the tradition into our home. We just had a lovely French couple and their two children over for one this week.
Alex made a savory chorizo cake, lemony salmon rillette, and fresh guacamole. I baked some fresh baguettes and we enjoyed making the preparations together.
Once our guests arrived dressed up and with a beautiful orchid in hand we got to know each other over some bubbly.
It was a wonderful evening and we were all pleasantly surprised to find out how much we have in common seeing how I came to know them just last week while waiting in line at ROSS.
I had overheard them speaking French with their young children, started up a conversation, and before I knew it we were exchanging phone numbers and planning an apéritif.
It was truly uncanny how well it went for being complete strangers.
I’m so grateful when life sends something special and unplanned my way. I just try to stay open and pay attention to the hints and promptings from the universe. I know that sound woo-woo but I’ve seen the magic in my life countless times.
It’s the feelings, emotions, and meaning behind our everyday rituals and traditions like apéritif and champagne that endlessly fascinates me.
And I enjoy writing about it!
Thanks for being here.
Please take the time to share what moment this article made you think of and/or YOUR favorite traditions and why they are special to you below in the comments.
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