Those seasonal traditions? Not so silly after all

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A week on from the terror witnessed in Paris last Friday, and it’s still difficult to think meaningfully about anything else.

At this time of year one usually has a million trivial things running through her mind – how many shopping weekends left before Christmas, how many hints can I drop that no, I’m not too old for an advent calendar, and how many catch-up drinks could/should be arranged in the space of a month.

A list of annual activities that seem silly, but still make the season so special. Now it seems wrong almost, to continue as normal. “You have to get on with your life,” people have said and wrote a lot in the last seven days, “or else they win.”

Win. A strange choice of word, suggesting a game of some sort – someone wins, and someone loses. But I struggle to see it like that.

Like many people in this country and across the world, Paris means a lot to me. The destination of my family’s first (and only) coach trip, the venue for a friend’s 21st birthday celebrations, and the first weekend break The Boy ever treated me to.

Already living in France, he arranged two days of Christmas shopping around this time of year back in 2012. Walking hand-in-hand along the Champs-Élysées, stopping for dinner in front of the Eiffel Tower, spending a day browsing the boutique shops of Montmartre.

As clichéd as it sounds, it was nothing short of magical.

Exploring new parts of the city with a new love is something I’ll never forget.

To think that three years later, terror filled those same streets is almost impossible to comprehend. Were it not for the images, headlines, and the survivors stories, I’d refuse to believe it.

And from one magical city to another – the one I am lucky enough to call home these days – there remains a nervousness in the air that this (whatever this is) may not be over.

That said, a lot of stories of hope and bravery have been shared this week.

The most poignant for me came from a husband who lost his wife at the Bataclan. In a short video, he explains how those responsible for the attacks do not have his hatred, nor his fear. They won’t have the same from his 17-month-old son either. They’ve taken enough already. Despite the unimaginable grief, the duo will get on with their lives.

If they can, we all must. Counting down the shopping weekends, meeting up with friends... those seasonal traditions aren’t so silly after all.