Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving a la France

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.



  1. Bravo Aidan! C'est parfait!

    Happy Thanksgiving--it's in your heart--not on your table. I would however totally die for the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting!


  2. Thanks Cat. I hope you and yours have a wonderful celebration of thanks. I'll send you the recipe. Biz, A

  3. Awesome post Aidan. You are an awesome Mommy. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving. x x

  4. I think a visit to the kid's school definitely helped with the Thanksgiving blues. Next year, I'm going with you! x

  5. Oh, such a sweet story! I would be proud too.

  6. Very moving. It might make you smile that although Thnksging is not in Italian tradition, since my kids went to the American school here in Florence, my youngest daughter and I had a quiet celebration with turkey, corn and pumpkin.
    It was enjoyable, and full of meaning for us too.

  7. I love that you went to your kids schools and shared about our American Thanksgiving tradition. I would have been thankful for your cupcakes too.

  8. I'm with Sara. I'm coming too.! That was a lovely story Aidan, and your children have a lot to be thankful for as well. They've got you. And your cupcakes. bisous

  9. This is so lovely Aidan!

    What a wonderful thing for the teacher to do - encouraging the class to learn and be excited by the customs of other countries and well done to you and the Middlest for your presentations! This will be one of those expat experience you'll remember and treasure for years.

    Cream Cheese Frosting is the bomb. I made carrot cake for our Thanksgiving Day party at work and may have "accidentally" made far too much frosting. Mea culpa!

    Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. xxx

  10. K, thank you for the thanksgiving wishes. We had a wonderful holiday.
    Blandina, that does make me smile. I would love to know how you cooked your turkey, corn and pumpkin.
    Pet, thank you. It was one of those perfect moments.
    Delana, you are very sweet. I'm just glad I still have a year with the Middlest not being mortified by me in every way the way Ma Fille has begun to be!
    Chcmichel, thank you for reading and commenting. And really, who doesn't like cream cheese icing?!
    B, she is an amazing teacher. I am so appreciative of her and the way she has welcomed our family. You know howimportant a teacher can be in the lives of students. And carrot cake is my all time fave--my wedding cake was carrot!

    Thanks so much to all of you. A x


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