Happy Thanksgiving everyone. The clock tells me that ya'll in Texas are sitting at the dinner table right about now and I hope you are going around saying what you're thankful for in turn.
Here in France there is no Thanksgiving. It is a uniquely American holiday, and for that I am proud. I told my young cousin about the no Thanksgiving in France thing the other day via Skype and she said in her adorable East Texas accent, 'Aw, that's sad.'. And it kinda is.
As an American, Thanksgiving abroad can be one of the saddest days of the year. Everyone just goes about their business; work, school, shopping. No one wonders why I'm stockpiling dried cranberries to rehydrate into some semblance of cranberry relish (thanks Mom) or why I've got a crazed look in my eye as I search the meat counter for a whole turkey. One that hasn't been reduced to far flung parts.
Today I am thankful. And I'll tell you why.
I made pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting to take to the Big Kids' classes. The Middlest's teacher asked me to come prepared to say a few words about our holiday and Ma Fille's teacher asked her to do the same. I was nervous. So what I did was write it out in English and then translate the whole thing in the cheat's way. I also found a cute piece of clip art featuring a big empty turkey ready to filled up with all the things we're thankful for and so I printed that out for each student.
This afternoon after lunch, armed with my cupcakes, translated story of Thanksgiving and cute turkey, I stood before the Middlest's class. I read one sentence in English and he read the corresponding sentence in French. We did this back and forth with his teacher explaining in detail, using the map and bringing the immigrant thing home by saying how we're like Pilgrims for moving from home to here. She made it come alive and spent an incredible amount of time on our holiday. I couldn't have been more thankful.
At one point, the Middlest switched from reading the French sentences to reading the English ones. His fellow students never hear him speak English, much less read it aloud standing in front of the class. He read aloud, strong and proud, 'Modern day Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November.' My heart swelled. We have been worried about his English reading, afraid it was suffering from the focus at such a tender time on the French, but no. He read difficult sentences with no stalls, stutters or problems. I think the little girl who has been in love with him from the beginning just about fell out of her chair, poor thing. He's a bilingual super boy!
The class worked hard thinking of their reasons to be thankful, most leaning towards extra-curricular activities like playing football and riding horses. One little girl's turkey filled thankful sentence stood out though. She was thankful to live in France and attend French schools and to have new books and supplies. The Middlest was thankful for his family.
I told his teacher that her allowing me to spend the afternoon with them, explaining and sharing the meaning of Thanksgiving had made my day. I told her how thankful I was for her--for the time she'd taken and the gift she'd given my son in highlighting his culture.
So cream cheese frosting is lost on French kids. Who cares?
I am thankful for it all. For this life, my children, the opportunity to live in France and all of our immeasurable blessings.
Happy Thanksgiving. Wherever you are.