Facsimile from The Progress (Churchill Area), December 24, 1975, p. 1 (top)

U.S. style Christmas for AFS student

by Gen Lucidi

CHURCHILL AREA --- Veronique Chappellat won't be hanging her stocking at the fireplace tonight.
  Instead, the dark-eyed, 16 year-old plans on putting her shoe under the Christmas tree because, "That's what we always did at home in France."
  As the American Field Service exchange student at Churchill Area High School, Veronique is the house guest and "adopted" daughter of the Guy Berry family of Cascade Road in Forest Hills for the 1975-76 school year.
  Just like any other foreign visitor, she is "amazed" at the "bigness of everything" and the "speed with which everyone moves."
  But the articulate teen, who speaks almost perfect English, finds although surroundings and customs may vary, the Christmas spirit is the same in any language.

"WE HAVE a Christmas tree, perhaps even an artificial one. However, it is trimmed only with round ornaments, not figures such as here," she explained while admiring some of the decorations made by the Berry family.

  The focal point of the French home during the holidays is the nativity scene which often covers an entire wall. Figures are of varied dimensions, some being almost lifesized The elaborate backgrounds, such as mountains and landscapes, surround the manger to add to its magnitude.
  Since the Chappellats live in an apartment in Marseilles, they do not use outdoor decorations.

  THE CHRISTMAS observance opens for Veronique and her family Christmas Eve when they attend midnight mass. At noon the next day they gather at her grandparents for a sumptuous Christmas dinner.
  "We might start with goose pate, followed by stuffed fish or duck in orange sauce. Roast turkey is usually the main course. Lemons and oranges are served during the middle of the meal. And then there are a lot of side dishes, such as figs and nuts.

  "I don't know why, but it is French tradition to serve 13 desserts on Christmas. Of course," she reassured with a broad grin, "you don't have to eat all 13. You don't even have to taste them."
  Another tradition for the French, noted for their romantic nature, is that Santa Claus is a bachelor, who has somehow picked up the name "Father" Christmas. What's more, he has no tiny elves to give him a hand at turning out all those presents which he delivers to French youngsters.

  FOR THE BERRY children, Scott, Sue and Sandy, as well as for Mr. and Mrs. Berry, this Christmas has taken on a "particularly warm feeling" as they delight in showing Veronique scores of American sights and expose her to native customs.
  They've even given her some history lessons.
  As Veronique puts it, "Until two weeks ago I had never heard of Rudolph, the what-you-call reindeer, or that Frosty Snowman."

EXCHANGE STUDENT Veronique Chapellat picks out an "Uncle Sam"
decoration to hang on the Guy Berry family Christmas tree. Giving her a
hand are the Berry children (from left) Scott, Sue and Sandy.