Mireille's Musings - January 7, 2017

To a New Year of… Goofing Off!

Beginning 2017 with joy and laughter.

Let me begin this post by wishing you and your loved ones a luminous 2017… Une année lumineuse. It’s been quite a year for Edward and I, and I’m excited to share some news with you.

In France, we send greeting cards after Christmas and commonly throughout January—in America people generally send Christmas cards so that they arrive in December before the 25th. Ah, cultural differences…

January 6th, the holiday of La Fête Des Rois, which began as a Catholic tradition to symbolize the Feast of the Epiphany. These days, it’s better known for its more secular, gastronomic tradition: the delicious Galette des Rois. The feast is celebrated by sharing a puff pastry tart filled with sweet almond paste—and the tradition wouldn’t be complete without the fève, the special ceramic charm hidden inside the cake. Whoever finds the little fève in his or her piece of the pie is declared the king or queen. A toast and good wishes are then in order. Vive la Reine! Vive le Roi! It helps that pastry shops provide a golden paper crown with each galette…

To celebrate this year, Edward and I were out with friends. Edward was charged with cutting the galette and distributing the pieces. He surgically cut the cake in half and then carefully cut four pieces but… No fève. Et bien?  Obviously, we had to eat the other half of the cake to find it! He cut two pieces for our guests, and then, when splitting the last part for himself and me, voilà, he hit gold! Well, a sort of gold—a golden fève. He separated the pieces, and half of the ceramic charm was exposed, the other side still embedded in my piece. So, he found it, but I had it. Our friends declared both of us winners and as there was still plenty of wine in our glasses we both enjoyed “To the king!” and “To the queen!” toasts.

T’was a good way to start what we hope will be an extraordinary year for us. We are both healthy and bursting with plans. Let me tell you about the biggest change, and what we hope is going to be the next phase/stage of our lives.

We were checking in at the Ham Yard Hotel in London, picked because of its closeness to the theaters so we could walk, but also because we like some of the new boutique hotels. A handsome young man with a non-British accent checked us in; he had gorgeous blond Scandinavian hair and blue eyes to match. A Swede, he was, and said to us in a nonchalant manner:

“Where are you guys from?”

Edward said, “New York City,” and I said, “Paris,” where I’d just flown in from.

The attendant said, “How cool! But what are you doing here?”

And together, spontaneously, in a perfect duo, Edward and I both said: “Goofing off!”

We laughed.

“Goofing off” is an apt phrase for our next phase in life before we’ve even begun to understand it. Edward has two more weeks as President of the New York Institute of Technology before he enjoys a “sabbatical,” and we start the real fun. It’s been a while since we’ve had time to ourselves, and we had been practicing “goofing off” over the holidays—but with stops in New York, Provence, London and Paris, an overdose (or simply more than we thought was possible!) of theater, dance, music, exhibitions, restaurants, dinner, tea and visits with friends, and lots of laughter, we learned one thing: “goofing off” doesn’t necessarily mean slowing down or doing “nothing.”

We could have chosen the linguistically attractive French expression “tire au flanc,” though its meaning could suggest being lazy… Not our style.  And “doing nothing” doesn’t fit either. “Goofing off” reminds us of the Robert Bly poem, Driving to Town to Mail a Letter, where the narrator appreciates the snowy beauty of the moment, and concludes, delightfully, that “driving around, I will waste more time.”

Et voilà! That is our goal and wish for 2017: we hope to define what “goofing off” means for us, including driving around and wonderfully wasting time. We wish you the most beautiful new year, and a healthy goof off, too!



PS: Our New Year’s dinner was simple—salmon, salad, and bien sûr, champagne!