|Gilets Jaunes, Act V|
As calm seemed restored in Paris, at least for now, the government announced a one-time €300 bonus to thank the police force for its hard work under exceptionally difficult circumstances. For five weekends in a row they had been on active riot duty, and a terrorist attack in Strasbourg (which claimed a fifth fatality this week) had put the entire force on highest alert. Many law-enforcement officers had been injured by hooligans who, a police spokesman said, were particularly aggressive and not just out for a stone-throwing fight with the police but prepared to kill them. Their exhaustion and disappointment at what they considered a "puny" bonus soon led to a pervasive disgruntlement and old grievances that gave birth to the gyros bleus movement (named after the whirling blue lights on top of police cars).
|Gyros bleus on the Champs Elysées|
As we wait and see how all this is going to play out, let's relax and enjoy this moment of calm to turn to other matters. Such as food, the main subject in France at this time of the year, with many cooking programs on TV, and truffles, foie gras, game, fowl, marrons glacés, and exotic fruits taking pride of place in food shops. In Aix-en-Provence, the Christmas chalets are lined up along the Cours Mirabeau, and the popular Provençal nativity scene is there again with santons in traditional dress carrying offerings of lavender, olives, wheat or chickens as they descend from their hill-top villages on their way to baby Jesus in the stable. The crowds are out and the mood seems festive, even though the heavily armed soldiers on "Vigipirate" duty are a jarring presence.
As the last of the rubble in Paris has been cleared away, the graffiti scrubbed clean, and the shop windows freed from their protective boards, Peace on Earth may yet prevail this Christmas, at least for a while. Fingers crossed again.
It's been quite a year, here as elsewhere. But things are rarely as bad as they look, so go ahead and enjoy the blessings of the season, including the abundance of food and drink that mark Christmas. Remember that New Year's resolutions exist for a reason, so make it worth your while before paying for it later, helped along by this handy Holiday Workout.
May you all have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a PEACEFUL NEW YEAR full of the promise of better times ahead.
Together with champagne Santa, I'll raise a glass to that.