My friend Richard says that every year there is at least one person in his classes who asks him how you say "Thanksgiving" in French. His response? "Jeudi." (That's "Thursday" for you non French speakers.)
Yes, it's true. Life goes on here without any mention of turkey or football or parades or gratitude. Unlike that other "American" holiday, Halloween, Thanksgiving in any form has not caught on over here. I know that Thanksgiving celebrates an event in American history, but gratitude is such a nice idea, and the French love good food so much that I would think that they would adopt it and Frenchify it in some way. Mais non!
It's up to the ex-pats to carve out (pun intended) some sacred space in the week to celebrate Thanksgiving with any and all willing participants. Jed and I were fortunate this week to be able to celebrate the holiday two times.
First, we went to our friend, Dominique's, house (like we often do), and she had prepared a big turkey leg and vegetables for our lunch on Wednesday. I brought roasted root vegetables, and we finished off the meal with chocolate or caramel pudding cups. Yum! Dominique is at the top of my list of people to be grateful for this year. I cannot imagine our lives without her.
On Thursday, I took Grandmom's peanut butter bars to school for my colleagues, left them on the counter and ran away fearing that the French might not like them since peanut butter is considered kind of strange over here. When I returned after school, there wasn't even a crumb left in the pans. Unless someone took pity on me and threw them all in the trash, I'd say that they were a hit.
Jed and I did not have a special meal on Thursday, but we talked with family and friends via Skype and felt extremely grateful for this amazing technology that helps keep us connected to the people we love.
On Friday, Jed and I headed to Crest immediately after school. Carrie had decided to have a traditional feast for her French friends, and she invited us to be a part of it. She paid a small fortune for two turkeys, and she made stuffing. My contribution was two sweet potato casseroles, a pan of Grandmom's peanut butter bars, and bottle of wine. The other guests brought everything else. I think that there were 22 of us total, with kids big and small running all over the place. It was casual and loud and fun. I am grateful for friends who are fabulous cooks and for generous people who welcome newcomers into their group with open arms. I'd like for people to be able to say both of these things about me one day.
Happy Thanksgiving y'all!