November 24th was just another Thursday for Parisians. Life went on as normal–weather getting colder, Christmas decorations going up and traffic trying to figure out how to avoid traffic jams now that Mayor Hidalgo has closed two main thoroughfares to everything except pedestrians and bicyclists.
For me, it was Thanksgiving. My 4th Thanksgiving in Paris. My first Thanksgiving in 2013, My friend, Barbara and I went to the Hippopatomus for dinner then to see Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks. For Thanksgivings 2014 and 2015, I invited fourteen people to my apartment on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we had a wonderful meal and went around the room each saying our special gratitudes.
This year, I am moving apartments. I couldn’t possibly entertain and also be closing up the apartment. A month ago, two good friends, American and French, invited me to celebrate Thanksgiving with them ON THANKSGIVING! That invite made my whole day seem different. Every time I looked out the window, I expected to see little or no traffic. I kept having to remind myself that stores were open. Only the thousands of e-mails I received informing (as if I was a Martian) me about Black Friday and Cyber Monday reminded me that this weekend is bigger than an American day of gratitude. It has been surpassed by a world celebration of Greed! of More!
The two years that I hosted Thanksgiving, I would go to the Thanksgiving store in the Marais and put in my order for a turkey. That turkey costs 4 or 5 times the price of a Butterball and the first year I justified it by telling myself I was the hostess and therefore brought the Poultry of Honor. After eating said turkey, I had no need to justify anything. Without exception, French turkeys are the best I’ve ever eaten. I’m told they are raised in the South of France, under very humane conditions.
Bill, our cook and host, preparing the turkey.
At the Thanksgiving Store, one can also buy Libby’s Pumpkin, stuffing makings, aluminum to cook the turkey in, all sorts of nuts, evaporated milk and most anything else that screams Thanksgiving but is all but impossible to find in Paris and certainly the rest of France.
You would have to have a subscription to SkyTV in order to see a football game and who knows if you could find something on at the same time. And because we have Thanksgiving dinner literally and not a mid-afternoon meal, there is not the usual constitutional before dessert and coffee.
There is something about Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s because it’s still Autumn and in many parts of the States, it is still Indian Summer. The leaves of many colors have floated to the ground, the weather hovers somewhere between crisp and delicious, my last 25 Thanksgivings in California have always had blue skies. It is a quiet day and usually a quiet celebration. Football fans are shooed to the TV room to cheer on their teams and the rest of us sit around the table in a relaxed fashion that just isn’t possible for most of the year.
As you can guess, it’s my favorite holiday. It reminds me to be enormously grateful for the abundance in my life, for so many friends in both the US and in France.
Are you an ex-Pat? How did you spend your Thanksgiving?