This morning when I went downstairs to check our pigeon hole for letters, I found another stiff envelope addressed to the pair of us. Turning it over I saw the return address was - as I had suspected -
Smiling, I place the card with the rest of the ‘Congratulations’ and ‘You’re engaged!’ cards that line the mantelpiece and I consider for a moment the fact that every single one of those cards have come from my family, from my friends. I remember the piles of beautiful, thoughtful engagement gifts we received while in Scotland too, that wait for us in my childhood bedroom back home, too heavy or fragile to have squeezed into our suitcases when we made our journey back to Paris last weekend. No gifts from the French side of the nearest and dearest. No cards, no gifts, no warm wishes.
Is it a difference in cultures, I wonder, or could this sinking feeling I have been harbouring over the past week prove right? Do the French make less of a big deal out of an engagement than in
This past weekend was spent in
I hadn’t expected cheers and whoops of joy, but I had expected someone to crack a smile at least. All we got instead was an “ah yes, we’d heard. Your mother told us.”
I was taken aback. I mean, seriously, that was all they could come up with?! Don’t pull a lip muscle smiling or anything, will you. I sprung forward with my left hand to show off the ring, trying to fill the strange silence that had formed where there should have been ‘congratulations’ and hugs and la bise. Very quickly – too quickly – the subject was changed, as if we had said nothing at all.
Afterwards, during the meal, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of disappointment. Was this really a normal way to welcome joyful news within a French family? Perhaps it’s not joyful news to them at all, I contemplated. I hadn’t considered that just because this was my joyful news, it mightn’t please everyone.
In between the cheese course and dessert, FP and I were left alone for a minute or two while our hosts busied themselves in the kitchen, fetching the Galette des Rois.
“Well that went down like a led balloon.” I whispered to FP in English. He raised his eyebrows at me.
“When you told them we’re getting married. They didn’t even crack a smile, never mind congratulate us! I get the feeling no one in your family wants us to get married…”
“I know…” FP replied, looking down at the tablecloth and playing with a bread crumb. “I guess it’s because it wasn’t a surprise to them. Mum had already told them.”
The hostess reappeared and I sat back, rearranged my features to make my face look interested in the conversation again. But my mind flit from one worry to another. Suppose they hate me? Is it because I’m not French?
Before FP proposed to me, he asked my parents whether it was okay with them first. I wasn’t there, obviously, but I did hear later that my dad stood up, a beaming smile on his face, and gave FP a hug, saying ‘Welcome to the family, son.’ After the announcement was made, we spoke about the wedding, when might it be and would it be in
Telling the rest of the family and my friends was fun too. Even my grandpa who pretends he is completely against marriage gave us a toast and said congratulations after he had jokingly gave us his commiserations. My best friend, Zannie, invited us both to her house the day after Christmas for an aperitif with her entire family (her grandparents and uncle included) where we were hugged and congratulated and given gifts. Everyone was asking us questions about the wedding, everyone was interested.
Which is why it’s extremely difficult to not get upset when any time we try to talk about the wedding with FP’s family, we get greeted with a completely contrasting scene where the topic is quickly changed at the soonest opportunity. Or so it seems to me, at least.
It’s really very sad that although I should be jumping for joy right now and excitedly planning my wedding, the lack of enthusiasm that I’ve been met with from FP’s family has really begun to kill off any happiness or excitement I had in the first place.
It’s at times like these when I would give anything just to spend some quality time with a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine and my lovely, straight forward, always-pleased-for-me mum.