Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving, Again

It feels like only a couple of months ago I was celebrating Thanksgiving with my Mom here from Texas and Sara and Gregory from Provence. Why are things speeding up so? Is this a sign of age? You just have to look at the photos below for proof of that.
{Thanksgiving 2002, overdoing it on the pinwheels}
This year the big kids don't want me to send in any pumpkin cupcakes or bread or popovers like I've done all the years before. They're getting older too.

{Thanksgiving 2002, P-Daddy at the table}

Last year I was invited to the Middlest's classroom to speak to the children about my favorite holiday. It was one of the best Thanksgiving moments of my life and reminded me so much why I prefer the uniquely American holiday to any other.

It's about sharing and giving and being thankful for all that we have. And we do have so much, don't we? I am thankful, this year as always, for all of you and for my family. I miss you at home so much on this day, you'll never know.

{Thanksgiving 2002, Carving the Turkey}

Here's the post from last Thanksgiving's day with the Middlest and his French friends.

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. I didn't see that post last year, but am so thankful I've seen it now. It's a lovely story. And yes, we are grateful, and a little sad to be so far from home on this most special day. You describe the feeling well.

  2. What a beautiful post! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. We are celebrating this Saturday by introducing the holiday meal to some French friends. We are grateful to be able to share the holiday with others in absence of our family. Take care and enjoy!

  3. I'm glad you like it. I hope you have a wonderful celebration no matter the day and that you don't feel to lonely. Know I'm feeling it too! aidan xo

    How fun! I have always loved sharing our holiday that way. We did it twice while in Ireland and everyone loved it. Bon courage! I am sure they will love it. Love to you and your family in Bordeaux from ours her in Montpellier. We're all in the same boat today and knowing that makes it special.

  4. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! xox

  5. What a sweet post! I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving there in Montpellier.

  6. Happy Thanksgiving Aidan! Here, in America, this French family will be sharing in the feast with generous American friends... who take pity on these poor immigrants and take them in their midst every year ("They don't celebrate Thanksgiving... Imagine that... And they don't eat cranberry sauce either... Oh, and they don't like pumpkin pie... These Frenchies are a strange bunch!) -- Veronique (French Girl in Seattle) PS: To make sure I do not have to taste pumpkin pie, we are bringing one of the desserts this year: My mother-in-law's chocolate mousse. I am betting it will find many takers among the American audience :-)

  7. Michel,
    Thank you so much.

    Pumpkin pie is the best!!
    Bon appetit!

  8. Aidan, this post made me cry. It is so delicately written, yet your words are strong and full of meaning.
    Happy belated Thanksgiving, dear friend.

  9. What a beautiful, meaningful entry. Seriously. Sniffle sniffle.


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