Happy New Year, kiss kiss, best wishes, and good health to you! That is how we start the new year over here. Kisses all around (those cheek-touching-air-kiss-noises things), and giving everyone your best wishes for the new year. This happens the first time you see someone in the new year, any time until the end of January. (However, you have to keep track of who you have already seen so you don't offend them by wishing them happy new year twice, similar to the affront of saying "bonjour" twice in the same day to the same person.)
We rang in the new year with our friends who were staying with us (minus kids, who all got to go to bed around normal bedtime). We let Frédéric ring in the Polish New Year at 11 pm French time, so he could get to bed. The rest of us stayed up til midnight, wished each other happy new year, and headed off to our beds about six minutes later.
I wouldn't call this a New Year's resolution or anything, but let's just say that the social butterfly that was so latent I didn't even know it was there is finally starting to emerge, thanks mainly to an outgoing neighbor. The mom who stayed for Benjamin's entire birthday party made good on her vague coffee invitation and called to issue a more specific invitation last week... we showed up at 2:30 pm, and didn't leave until 9 pm!
(My excuse for this is as follows: around 5:30 we started making our move to leave; they asked us to stay for dinner. No, no, we said. Well, drinks, they countered. Ok, Frédéric agreed. But then... the husband had to go take care of his mule -- we didn't know what this meant, secret code for something? Is a "mule" some word that is not what it appears to be? -- and didn't come back for almost two hours! (Turns out a mule is just a mule; he had to go muck out the stall.) So we ended up having an "apéro dinatoire" (drinks & snacks in lieu of dinner) when he came back, and that is how coffee lasted until 9 pm... That is my story and I am sticking to it.)
And yet we don't seem to have overstayed our welcome, because she invited herself over to our house for coffee yesterday morning. We moved into "tutoiement" (calling someone the informal you, "tu" instead of the formal you, "vous") the day of the birthday party - major progress as far as being friendly with someone goes.
I took it as an indication that I ought to make more of an effort as well, so I steeled myself to ask another mom over for coffee this weekend with her family. Her daughters are both in Benjamin's class (1st & 2nd grade), and Frédéric and her husband used to be coworkers. We've been running into each other at school drop-off and pick-up for two years now, so it's probably about time we move things along a bit.
The first coffee mom has only lived in our village for a year but already knows significantly more people than we do. Must make life easier if you're outgoing, but at least I'm reaping some of the benefits of her outgoing-ness. Maybe 2012 is the year we'll start to know our neighbors!