This story starts at a cafe in Vienne, France on May 22, 2005. And what does lunch from 13 years ago have to do with Christmas 2018? It's a long story.
I was traveling with my friends Dot and Bob Allen in France. Something I had done a number of times. During my first extended trip to France in April 1998 I had spent a week with Dot and Bob in the Alsace region celebrating one of "those" birthdays. My birthday luncheon then was one of the most memorable days of my life but that's a different story.
This trip, in May 2005, we were based in a quirky apartment on top of the hill in Lyon. Dot, the consummate organizer and arranger, had scheduled our day to visit Roman ruins south of Lyon and then to have lunch at the nearby town of Vienne.
I remember it well. Vienne was one of those places where I just felt at home. Comfortable. We found a place to park then wandered along a street with many cafes. We picked one because we liked the way the chairs were set-up. They were the ubiquitous white, molded plastic chairs but plump, floral cushions had been added. Just the place for lunch and a nice glass of wine. It was France after all!
And being Americans, we also asked for water. And what we got was an iceberg shaped bottle of "Evian 2005" ... a souvenir bottle. If you look closely at the picture on the right you can see one of the bottles on the table behind us.
I loved it. Of course, i wanted to take one home with me. It makes perfect sense to put a heavy, glass bottle in already overstuffed luggage. And it would soon be joined by the red ginkgo dishes we found in a tableware shop around the corner. Dot always had a knack for finding something with a ginkgo motif that I "just had to have!" So the bottle and some of those dishes came to live with me 13 years ago.
Fast forward to mid December 2018. I was in California spending time with Dot and Bob's daughter Jennifer, son Josh, niece Debbie, among other friends, to plan Bob's Celebration of Life. We had one of the conversations you have when you are remembering a loved one who has just passed. We were telling stories about Bob, and Dot and Bob, and talking about all the trips we made. I said how much I enjoyed traveling with Dot and Bob. All I had to do is "show up" wherever Dot told me too. We talked about the silly things we brought home with us. Josh told a story about a trip to New Zealand with them. Bob had so much wine in his luggage, he was told it was too heavy to bring on the plane. I remembered out trip to Lyon and Vienne and the heavy Evian bottle.
A week later, I was home. Grading was finally done. I started my preparations for my Japanese style New Year's Celebration which includes, among other things, a thorough house cleaning. I started in my pantry, I get up on a ladder to see what was on that shelf "up there" ... and what did I find ... of course, the Evian 2005 bottle. I got it down and put in on the window sill behind my sink. I texted a picture of it to Jen. "Amazing" was her reply. Yes, indeed, amazing. Not only had I brought it home, I had brought it with me when i moved.
After I completed some of the cleaning, I made a trip to the grocery store. Being only 3 days before Christmas, the store was packed. I had plenty of time to stand in line and look at all the Christmas stuff they had placed next to the check out lines ... banana flavored candy canes? gel stick on's? Without really thinking about it, I grabbed a few of the gel stick on things ... snowflakes, "JOY", a Christmas tree ... and put them in my cart. Why not? The package said they were good for children over the age of 3. That certainly applies to me. Of course when i got home, I asked myself, "What in the heck am I going to do with these things?" I looked at the Christmas stick-ons, I saw the Evian bottle. The rest is history.
I texted Jen a picture of the bottle. Her reply was right on target: "It's a perfect fit. Clearly you just knew unconsciously that is would work."
So to my late friends Dot and Bob, thank you for the wonderful memories and a very special Christmas Evian.
And Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Blessed New Year, and whatever you choose to celebrate to all.