12 Days of Home for the Holidays: Francine Clouden

Today's guest for the 12 Days of Home for the Holidays is Francine Clouden.  I became aware of Francine
on Twitter.  Following Francine is like having a wealth of inspiration each day.   Sine then I've been inspired by her blog Callaloo Soup, Callaloo on Esty, Craft Gossip Network, and Write.Click.Scrapbook.  She is also an incredible photographer.  Francine lives in Lyon, France.  Welcome Francine.

Francine Clouden
Being Home for the Holidays has always been important to me, because I live far away from my home country. As a young adult, I wasn’t too far away but even then I couldn’t wait to get back home to celebrate with my family. Holiday traditions, even the silly ones like new sleepwear, were very important to my family. I even did a layout to capture that!

Now that I live in a country with very different traditions, I think fondly about Christmas in the Caribbean when I can’t be there. This layout is all about remembering the tropical holiday season.

The journaling says;-
Christmas back home is more than a day, it's a season. You can feel it in the air from early December. Everybody is talking about it, and holiday music is playing on the radio and in the stores. We’re all busy cleaning and fixing our homes up. New curtains, new furniture, even new appliances! We're mincing and soaking our fruit in wine, we're making sorrel, punch-a-creme and ginger beer; we're buying cases of soft drinks and beer; we're making sure we have wine, Harvey’s Bristol Cream and Bailey's Irish Cream. One day you get home and the whole house smells of baked ham with cloves, and you check the fridge to make sure you have Piccalilli. There's always some kind of party, you have your office party, your friend's office party, all kinds of activities to go to. Parang music!!! Not to mention Sparrow's version of "There's no place like home for the holidays", Red Plastic Bag's "Maisie" and The Merrymen's "Santa Got a Sunburn". Friends you haven't seen in ages drop by the house saying "Compliments of the Season!" because they have to taste your ham and cake. Finally you get your tree and set it up, close to the window of course so everyone can see it as they pass by. And one tradition particular to our house: Mummy coming home on the last day of school with gifts from all her students and us trying to convince her she can't open them till Christmas Day. It never worked of course! Then the cake is baked and you break out the sorrel and have it over crushed ice. By Christmas Eve everything is perfect, the gifts are under the tree, you’ve given cake to your friends and family - because everyone has to have an assortment to compare! You’ve also stocked up on Quality Street candies, After Eights and other treats. There’s a bowl of nuts on the coffee table with a nutcracker nearby. Maybe you head to midnight mass, maybe not, one thing is for sure, Santa Claus is on your mind! At some point in the night you might hear singing outside, most likely a group of merry gentlemen and they won’t go until the rum come! Christmas morning arrives, and on the breakfast menu is fresh baked bread with fried ham (with Piccalilli!), maybe some bakes and salt fish souse with cocoa tea. But that is only after the gifts are opened and we all thank each other. Then comes the big preparation for lunch. If the extended family is getting together it’s a bit easier since everyone pitches in and makes one or two dishes. On the menu: Stuffed turkey, more ham, stewed peas, macaroni pie, rice and peas, a big salad, sweet potato casserole, green beans…. No need to ask what’s for dessert – fruit cake of course! Then things calm down, depending on your age you play with new toys, read a book or spend time chatting. By the end of the day talk turns to the next big event: what are we doing for Old Years Night?

Luckily, I have made it back in recent years. The first time I was very happy to combine some of the traditions from my adopted country with those at home! This layout is all about how our Christmas meal in 2005 was a combination of holiday treats from Grenada and France.

Last year we took our son Kieran back home to spend the holidays with my family, most of whom he had never met. It’s hard to explain the joy that everyone felt on this trip, and I was especially happy that he got to meet his great aunts and uncles!

And there was nothing better than seeing him with his grandmother (my mum) on Christmas morning.

We won’t be making it back this year, so my plan will be to finally scrapbook the memories from a year ago to keep me warm!

Make sure to leave a comment for Francine.

Thank you Francine for sharing and inspiring!  Tomorrows guest is Patti Milazzo.


  1. francine thanks for sharing your story!

  2. thank you Francine for sharing with us! i love that so many people share the importance of tradition.

  3. Thanks for sharing, how nice are family traditions and looking back.

  4. what a beautiful rich heritage~TY for sharing with us!!! loved looking at your scrapbooking work~

  5. Great, now I'm hungry! LOL!

  6. Very cool!
    I don't know a winter Christmas other than TV and what's going on in the northern hemisphere. We always have a hot summer Christmas here in New Zealand.

  7. dontcha just love tradition! my kids dont appreciate it fully yet...but they will! luv your story!

  8. Thanks for this story of two different Xmas traditions from around the world. As always, love your LO's.
    Happy Holidays!

  9. I just adore that journal pocket and of course the journaling. Thanks so much for sharing.

  10. I love hearing about different family traditions, but especially ones from different parts of the world! Thanks for the great story.

  11. So interesting to hear about traditions from others. Now I am wondering what sorrel is exactly. Thanks for sharing.


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