Polish that silver.......A Christmas tale

Monchéri is baking and I’m polishing the silver. What I pompously call "my silver", mon argenterie, as we say in French sums up to a dozen of forks, knives and spoons, perhaps twenty dessert spoons, a coffee pot, a little milk jug and a sugar container. Nothing much really but I love to make it shine for the holiday as friends will come and share with us the 13 desserts we’re busy preparing. I was born in Provence where the 13 desserts at Christmas is a tradition and as a cake lover I happily indulge into the baking madness.

Of course, in no time the kitchen is a total mess. We fight for the least amount of space left.

Mira, quitate de aqui que necesito fregar... (look, get out of the way, I need to use the tap)

Si pero yo tambien quiero fregar (well, me too)

Y porque siempre tienes que hacer la misma cosa que yo al mismo tiempo ¡ que pesado, eres ! (why do you always have to do the same thing as me, you’re a bore)

La pesada, eres tu, y para ya de lijar estos cubiertos, que mania ! (no you are a bore, and stop polishing this cutlery, you're such a maniac)

I smile at Monchéri and display my little argenterie on a tray. Funny how cleaning and polishing can bring some satisfaction.

Also whenever I polish my little silver set, I just can’t help smiling and thinking of where I was five years ago.

Five years ago, I was a wreck. After ending a long term relationship with my ex-boyfriend I was left with practically nothing...Everything went, the house, the computer, the washing machine, any kind of machine, the cat. Luckily, I still had my friends. One found me a place to stay while I'd get a new home. I was still selling my design work and was making some extra money on week ends baking cakes for a restaurant and running their tea room on Sundays.

Then, one day, another dear friend told me Look I’ve got the perfect job for you which will set you back for a while. And she started to tell me about a wonderful jewel of a house set in the middle of nowhere with the most amazing menagerie, where lived a whimsical former antique dealer.

- Ok, ok…and what then…what is the job about ?

- Well…looking after the old man, that is, preparing his breakfast, lunch, then tea, then a light supper and that’s it. Oh…and feeding the animals as well…You'll live there and you have 2 days off every 10 or 12 days.

- Sounds nice…what do you mean by the animals exactly ?

- Tortoises, cats and dogs, doves, hens, peacocks and there’s a female hawk too…

- Oh my…but wait..this old man…is he ok or what ?

- Well…he can barely walk, unless with a cane. Also, he can be very difficult at times but I know him a bit and he’s nice.

- Mmmm..

- Oh….come on…don’t think it twice..it's very well paid...you need the money or not ?

- You bet I do…

And what my friend said was true, the house was the fabulous dream of an eccentric. Since then, I learnt it has been featured a few times in decoration magazines. Naturally I wasn't allowed to bring any stranger on the premises as the rooms were filled with valuable objects and art.

And the menagerie !...For the first time of my life, I made friend with one particular peacock which used to enter the vast living room, everyday to get bits of bread. I had a beautiful ensuite room which was my refuge during siesta time and in the evening. It was also by my window that the female hawk came to get her piece of poultry. I felt an immense joy the day she let me stroke her head. My job was pleasant, I didn't too well with the hens though but I loved the doves. The tortoises were funny and easy to satisfy with big leaves of lettuce.

Well…I was doing fine except that the old man was a bit more whimsical than I had thought. Except that, like in cheap literature, I suddenly find myself trapped in a nasty rapport de force situation. The old man was not a nice man. He loved humiliating people. It made me feel really sad and I often wondered why be so mean after having lived such a full and interesting life ? Why not be just grateful ?

The tricky thing is that, during the time I was there, I still had orders to prepare and send to shops. One afternoon, he found me in the kitchen making some cards during my time off. He shouted : "what do you think, you're here for, you lousy girl !....you're not paid to do your own work!".

- But, this is my time off….I objected

- You don’t have any time off ! If you have nothing to do…there’s plenty of silver to polish !

I was swollen with anger but I just shrugged my shoulders and because I didn’t want to make things worse, I put my work aside and started to polish the silver, like he said. In reality, I didn’t mind as some pieces were truly beautiful.

As you can imagine, I didn’t keep this job too long as it got stressful in the end. I do miss the female hawk and this one particular peacock which ate in my hand.

A few years went by…things got better.

Little by little I carried on my design work while resuming my first job which is translator. After sharing a house with two persons, I now live in my own flat. And the most important of all, I met my wonderful unique Monchéri, that guy who told me this afternoon, stop polishing that silver, that's enough now...

Well, this afternoon while I was polishing my own silver, I smiled thinking of the whimsical old man, wishing him a merry Christmas.

Have a merry peaceful week end
Forget about the Christmas shopping
Bake cookies for your loved ones!

pic my petite argenterie


Yoli said…
Oh Lala, what a beautiful tale and what a wonderful person you are. No matter what, nothing in life will ever get you down sweet girl. May you and your loved ones have a Merry Christmas.
You are an angel! The company of animals is often preferable to that of people!!! Enjoy your very own silver and a beautiful weekend too.
tangobaby said…
Oh Lala (because like Yoli, there no other way to start this comment)...

Oh Lala, what you touch turns to magic! This story sounds like a fairy tale but in the best and most truthful way.

I loved this story so very very much!
Linda Sue said…
Lala, Thank you for your story. It's a good one! Reminds me to NOT become cranky as I age...He really must have been very grateful for your company and help, I can't help but think that. Lovely you.
I, too, have sentimental silver to bring out for Christmas eve, I enjoy polishing it especially since coming upon the best polish ever! So easy! Cheers! Stunning story!
ResidentExpat said…
Como una pelicula! I'm going to add you to this group blogging about Christmas. You have such an interesting story. La mayoria de la gente que escriban sus historias, experiencias natal son chicas en Chile!
Lovely tale about the grumpy old man. And yes, I know about those 'kitchen fights'.

Greetings from London.
Merry Christmas! Congratulations on your beautiful blog! William Thomas
Alette Siri Ane said…
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Alette Siri Ane said…
removed only because I forgot a few letters !You enjoy life ,have a wonderfull christmas .!
莫莫 said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Edi Style said…
;-) I will hang an extra "angel hair" for him
tangas usadas said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ruth said…
Sounds like the old curmudgeon needed some polishing, in spite of his beautiful home.
Elizabeth said…
Merry Christmas, Lala!
Yes, let that silver shine.
I send you lots of virtual walnut and chocolate chip cookies.
Have a delightful and cheery season.
love from New York.
Silly, pompous old grump! Glad you're in a better place now.
Thank you for the wonderful story. I really enjoy reading your blog. Merry Christmas!
Macroe said…
In Mexico, where I'm from, the word "fregar" is usually understood as "to bother someone" in quite a bad way. It's funny if you read your Spanish sentences with this change. Mando un gran abrazo a una desconocida, de parte de otro desconocido, en el otro lado del mundo.
ipv6 said…
Angel you are not!sertainly not, but I like your writting ;)
willow said…
I would love to be a little mouse watching you and Moncheri in your flurry of holiday perparation! I have enjoyed the baking of cookies for my loved ones. Happy Christmas to you and yours, too, Lala.
Relyn said…
How like you to wish a grumpy, curmudgeonly old man a merry Christmas. Merry Christmas to you, my friend.
derfina said…
Here via blogger. Very nice site!
Cynthia said…
What is it about polishing the silver that has an old time feel? What are you doing? Oh, just polishing the silver...I'm afraid I'm remiss about the task and end up buying silverware in bulk. Not quaint, classic or elegant like you, Lala
It is my first time to visit your blog. It is an awesome blog and you
choose attractive photos to match
with your posts. Very nice one, indeed. God bless. :)
Nixa said…
Que linda tu vida...bien vivida.
Gabbi said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabbi said…
That was truly a lovely Christmas post dear Spain, your old employer reminded me of Ebenezer Scrooge....but his pets sound fantastic. I have doves and a rabbit and a cat, but now I wish I had a peacock too :) Your silver looks lovely by the way.
vicki archer said…
I loved hearing your 'silver polishing' story and learning more about your past life. Have a wonderful Christmas Lala and a very happy New Year, xv.
Jackie said…
PS I also meant to say I love the cards that you make, I must look at your shop online. Jackie in the UK!!
l'air du temps said…
well my dear, you know i like to share a word or two with you, but this post leaves me speechless (letterless). it is incredibly beautiful!

do enjoy your 12 cakes celebration, this tradition is new to me, it sounds divine...
3oltan said…
What a beautiful picture! Awesome)
I liked this story, thank you very much.
Merry Christmas!
David Engel said…
Votre argenterie est belle.
Paul Pincus said…
this was wonderful!
Beaz said…

it was very nice of you to have showm up and posted a comment inmy blog. For those who have Portuguese as the mother tongue it is quite easy to understand castellano. Besides, people of good will can understand each other in every and without any language.

I´ll be following your blog.
Anairam said…
What a funny story, Lala - but what a pity that the old man turned out to be so horrible - you are a really special person to still be able to wish him a merry Christmas! I laughed when I read your last instruction - because today I spent baking chocolate cookies, spice biscuits and vanilla biscuits in preparation for my son who will arrive for a visit tomorrow! PS Thank you so much for including me in your list of blogs earlier - there are a lot of new links for me to follow and meet other bloggers!
Great story...

but the title brought back a bad memory of my mother forcing me to polish silver.... blah
M&K said…
I'm coming by way of Paris et Cie. Your blog is great and I absolutely loves this story. It transports me to Provence and to another time era! Beautifully written and sounds like a true life experience.
rochambeau said…
Dear Lala,
I love you because you are a special person. Unique and wonderful! I too wish this man a Merry Christmas and thank him for giving you your life back when you needed it!

Merry Christmas to you and your Cherie.
Have A WONDERFUL SPARKLING PARTY with that pretty silver!

enar arshad said…
your blog is so inspiring!
BULLTH said…
Very good..
Balić said…
hey nice blog :)
please come and see my blog
Susan D said…
Greetings, I enjoyed your Christmas Story. It's a simple message that stuff does not make us happy. God's blessings to you. Merry Christmas, Susan
Lynne said…
what a lovely tale! and i love silver too!
have a sparking and wonderful xmas!
Paris Atelier said…
Lala, you truly touched me just now, I have to admit I'm a little misty eyed. Thank you for reminding me that things get better & that bad situations aren't really that bad at all, it's just how you look at them & what you take from them. I'm off to polish my silver now, and just know that everytime I do, I will think of you and your story!
Wishing you the happiest of holidays! From my home to yours!
ARJUN MS said…
your Christmas tale is really an inspiring tale.i loved reading it.
what impressed me more is the Christmas wishes you made to the old man.
i will read your blog regularly.
Merry Xmas
(please visit and comment)
sex said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Claire said…
Lala your response on my blog means more than you know. Thank you for caring for me, a stranger to your world.

I was able to return to your blog tonight with peace. I was able to soak up this magical story. It made me smile and reminisce. It made me remember the hard times that I have been through that have taught me so much and through which I have grown.

Polishing silver... this is so symbolic of the precious moments that need to be nurtured with love and tenderness.

I wish you blessings in abundance.
Fifi Flowers said…
That photo is FAB! Planning to paint it... I hope you don't mind!
La Flotte said…
Hi Lala, it's the first time that i'm on your blog but you've really got me with your lovely stories!
I like it very much how you can describe your life with a laugh and a sweet touch.
Wish you all the best for 2009!

sex999 said…
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Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
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