Sending my love to Strasbourg
A prayer for peace.
A week ago today, I was visiting the Christmas Capital of France, Strasbourg. This overnight trip was part of a dream vacation- a last hurrah before I begin graduate school in early January. My partner and I have never been to Europe, but many of our more travelled friends raved about the Christmas Markets in Paris, and particularly in Strasbourg.
Remember the scene in It's a Wonderful Life, when you see all the twinkling lights of the little town and every window is decorated? Paris, and Strasbourg turn every street, window and tree into myriad celebrations of the season.
At the time we left, the Yellow Vest movement was picking up steam. But at no time did we feel unsafe.Yes, there were demonstrators, and yes, we saw some damage to stores along the Champs Elysee. Sometimes streets were blocked, and the Paris Christmas market we visited and been moved. But, these were minimal disruptions and we truly felt that the majority of demonstrators were just trying to prove a point. More about Paris soon.
In the middle of our week, we boarded a high speed train and went to Strasbourg. This little city is so close to Germany that you can sense its influence immediately. The architecture has more of a Germanic and Swiss style to it. The food is different, and very good. And everywhere, you saw signs of Christmas. There were 8 different Christmas Markets scattered throughout Strasbourg.
All of these markets are outdoors. There was an ice rink, plenty of stalls selling hot mulled wine or hot chocolate, and lots and lots of vendors selling Christmas items and handmade crafts. One of my favorite experiences was watching the children as they exclaimed over the decorations and tried to figure out where Santa was.
Learning this evening that someone had opened fire in this sweet city as others wandered through the markets, compelled me to write a very different post than what I intended. I hope and pray that this mad act does not mar the lovely traditions of these markets, which have been going continuously for hundreds of years. I wish I could join all who are no doubt in the Strasbourg Cathedral tonight, trying to make sense of this tragedy.
Instead I will light a candle here in Vermont, and pray that France, a country that has seen so much violence, can stand firm in the love and respect they show each other, and the rest of the world.