They came to “feel like family” in this day of celebration. Welcome to the opera Garnier for Christmas lunch, nearly a hundred elderly people, accompanied by the Little brothers of the poor, rejoiced on Tuesday of this interlude of “joy” in their lonely life. Under the black coat and the jacket in which it is still curled up by this morning’s chilly, Monique, 77 years of age, has put a sweater a shiny, black, and gold. “It is a celebration,” she said to explain her outfit. Installed in a wheelchair, this former laboratory assistant in the hospital, who lives alone in Paris, is part of “for the first time” at the Christmas lunch organized each year by the Little brothers of the poor. “A joy” to her fate “very little”. “The most important thing is to get out”, she adds.
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To accommodate them, she and all the other guests – the 90 people expected to attend, majority of them women -, 50 volunteers busy. As of 10: 30, the first guests arrive. Come home, a retirement home or a hospital. Martine Savary, 62 years old, and a volunteer for the past three years, pushing a wheelchair or helping a person to walk with no menus to the place of the feast. “There are isolated individuals, abandoned by their families, of the miseries terrible,” observes Mary Goustine, 70 years of age, come to share “a little of (his) power” as a volunteer, and that also evokes the laughter of “the people fabulous, the beings who bring you up”.
For the Little brothers of the poor, who are organising this year four lunches in the capital, without counting the packages distributed to those who can not or do not want to move, it is to “recreate what these people do not have, a family, a user-friendliness”. Their offer also “the superfluous” with the framework of the palais Garnier for this “special celebration” of Christmas. On the tables, on two floors, tiny pair of ballet slippers roses and ribbons, pastel pink, too, in the name of The magic Flute or sleeping beauty set the tone. “Always tidy” as “when (she was) young”, with its pretty right dress, her earrings and her brooch, Elizabeth, 75 years old, remembers to be already coming to the opera house for a performance of swan Lake . Today, almost blind, she came to “be with all”.
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Busy to solve the logistical problems of last-minute, Noëlie Merlo, coordinator of actions of Christmas for the Paris region, should resolve to abandon its plans of table. For security reasons, the maximum number of people in wheelchairs must be installed in the room below. “I had great plans but we will not follow them. It fits!”, amuse the young woman, an employee of the association after having been a volunteer.
upstairs, Elizabeth, 84 years, is seeking places ; it is accompanied by the neighbouring building. This Lorraine has lived for 50 years in Paris and she is alone. It has “more ways” to go to le Havre where his brother lived, or to Forbach, where lived the sisters. “We have small pensions that hardly hold on to”, she explains. There, “this is our Christmas”, “it allows you to feel like family”. While the first notes of music rise into the room, accompanied by the voice of a singer in evening dress, blue, outside, a couple of japanese tourists turned back. He comes to understand that the place was privatized. Around noon, the aperitif, a kir with blackberry, is served. On the menu, smoked salmon and organic daikon marinated, chicken supreme, a pie and tiramisu brown. “It is tantalizing,” says Monique, happy as the ray of sunlight that warms finally.