Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Special Gift

Salut mes amis,

I have some sad news. Mon grand-père, my grandfather, who went in the hospital over Noël, Christmas, has passed away. He never fully recovered after surgery and was in so much pain these past few weeks that I was relieved when he passed on. He is no longer in pain! It's Maman and ma grand-mère, my grandmother, that I feel sorry for right now. They are devastated! Juliette is pretty sad, too, and hasn't been able to do much these past few days. She sits around listlessly, hugging her bear, and crying all the while. She's so bad off that she hasn't even touched her ballet bag! It's all I can do to comfort her. I've even taken an official leave of absence from school because I can't bear to leave her side. It feels bizarre being back in Paris for longer than two weeks, but this is where I must be right now.

Before I left the United States, I'd picked up a belated Christmas present for my sister: an American Girl doll of her own! She'd been admiring my Cécile doll for quite some time, and I always figured that I was going to get her a Marie-Grace. However, when I found out that the new Girl of the Year for 2014 was a ballerina, I knew that she was the one! 

Juliette couldn't believe her eyes when I handed her the big, red bag, "Sophie, you really bought me an American Girl doll?! Aren't they extremely expensive?"

"Well, I know how much you've admired mine, and with two dolls, we can play together! Isabelle is the perfect doll for you; she loves ballet just like you do! I know she can't take the place of our grandfather, but she'll comfort you at least," I put my arm around Juliette, smiling all the while, "Now, go on. Open her up!"

Juliette carefully slid the lid off of the box, gazing at the doll that lay before her. Tilting the box upward so that she could get a good look at Isabelle's pretty hazel eyes, Juliette slowly began to smile. "Elle est très jolie, she is very pretty! And, ooh! She has pink hair streaks, my favorite color! Merci beaucoup, Sophie! I love her so much!"

After lifting her new doll from the confines of the box, Juliette gave her a hug. "I actually do feel a little better now. Thanks again, Sophie! You're the best sister a girl could ask for!"

I just smiled.

Have you ever given a special gift to someone who needed it?

Ton amie,

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sunday Lunch with a Friend

Salut mes amis,

On January 5th, I got to visit the American Girl store in the Washington, DC area! I hadn't been able to visit a store since my August 2012 visit to Natick, so I was pretty excited to see all of the new clothes and accessories that had been released recently. I also met Isabelle Palmer, Girl of the Year 2014. She's a ballet student from Washington, DC, and her story reminded me a lot of my twin sister's. I know she and Juliette would get along!

Isabelle and I chatted for a while, and when I started to get bored with all of the dance talk, I started playing with her cat, Tutu (seriously, who names their cat "Tutu"?!).  Isabelle also showed me all of the fun things in her design studio; I was particularly impressed with her sketchbook full of costume designs.

I said goodbye to Isabelle and wandered around the store for a bit. I decided to pose with the Isabelle photo op:

When the Isabelle area in the store became too crowded for me, I wandered elsewhere. I met Marie-Grace's sweet dog, Argos. He wanted to come home with me!

Finally, it was time to meet up with the real reason I came to the store: Inky! Inky and I have been trying and trying to meet up again since my visit to NYC, but our plans always fell through. I was SO EXCITED that I was able to meet up with her today. We decided to have a late lunch in the café. We had a lot to catch up on! She'd just gotten back from a trip to London, so - of course - I had to ask all about that.

After lunch, we decided to explore Isabelle's design studio together. Inky wanted to check it out for her friend Coral who also dances. When our guardians were out of earshot, we started whispering ways to sneak me back to NYC. Unfortunately, my guardian caught me before I was able to get into Inky's car, but hey, it was worth a shot!

It was SO good to be able to reconnect with Inky, even for such a short time. I wish I could see her more often!

Do you have friends who live faraway? How often do you get to see them?

Ton amie,

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Noël 2013

Salut mes amis,

Joyeux Noël! Bonne Année! I'm getting off to a late start posting my holiday photos because life has been pretty tough for my family lately. My parents and my sister were supposed to fly over to spend Christmas in America with me, but something put a damper on their plans. Juliette flew over solo, and Maman and Papa were going to follow her. Before they could, Maman's father - my beloved Grandpère - suffered a sudden heart attack and had to undergo emergency surgery. Of course, Maman really couldn't leave her father's side, and Juliette and I wanted to fly home to join her right away. Maman wouldn't have that. She insisted that we celebrate the holiday with our friends first, and then we could come home. 

Nathalie, Chiara, and Jessa were all too happy to celebrate Christmas with not only me but also Juliette. We scheduled our party for December 21st, the day after classes let out. We got gussied up, had dinner at a fancy Italian place, and munched on cookies and holiday coffee for dessert. Juliette spent much of the night telling us how her ballet rehearsals were going and how pretty Paris looks at Christmas. She tried not to let the news about Grandpère get her spirits down, although I know she is even closer to him than I am. She does get to see him much more than I do. 

Finally, it was present time. Our friends Aimee and Olive had sent us a bag full of presents, but since I had another present to open, I let Juliette open this one.

The first item that Juliette pulled out of the gift bag was a pretty princess wand. She waved it back and forth gleefully, pretending to conjure up some magic. "It'll be perfect for when I play the Sugar Plum Fairy!" she kept saying over and over. Juliette's brain is completely wired for ballet; she never completely stops thinking of tulle costumes and going en pointe!

Next, Juliette unrolled a hand-knit pink scarf. "Oh my, this is lovely! It's sure to keep my neck warm as I'm walking to and from ballet practice!"

"Ooh, this is lovely. It's the Star of Bethlehem that guided the shepherds and the kings to see Baby Jesus! It'll look perfect on our tree this year," Juliette said, gushing over a sparkly ornament.

The last gift Juliette pulled out of the bag changed her spirits completely. "Extra Math practice, oh no! I guess Christmas can't be too happy," Juliette frowned, placing the worksheets out of sight. Though she'd gotten better at the subject since having a tutor, she still did not like Math very much at all.

Next, it was my turn to open presents. The purple dress that I'm wearing is what I received from my parents; isn't it pretty? The gift on my lap is from Juliette; what could it be?

I pulled out a white tank and red shorts edged in lace, the perfect summer outfit! I can't wait to wear this as the weather gets warmer. The shorts have tiny white polka dots on them and real, working pockets - I love them!

Nathalie had a gift from Rowena, a friend in Star Valley. She'd been shaking this gift for the past few days, anxious about what could be inside.

Inside, she found a rag doll with red braided hair who only reminded her of her favorite fictional heroine, Anne Shirley. Isn't she cute?

Chiara and Jessa had some small goodies in their stockings. Chiara got a new notebook that she'll probably use for school, nerd that she is. Jessa got a Yahtzee game! She's already challenged me to a game. (She'll probably win. I suck at games, but whatever.)

And that concluded our holiday party. We took a group photo and promptly headed to bed, as Juliette and I had to catch a flight home. The rest of the holiday pretty much sucked for us, as we spent it in the hospital hoping and praying that Grandpère would make a full recovery. He did make it through surgery, but he's still recovering in the hospital as I speak. I hope he is able to go home soon!

I hope you had a better holiday season than we did!  In the comments, please tell me about your favorite Christmas or Hanukkah tradition of the year (or whatever you celebrate). What presents did you get? 

Ton amie,


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