Thursday, November 24, 2011

Le Jour de l' Action de Grâce

Invariably, this question comes up in my classes... "How do the French celebrate Thanksgiving, madame?"  Well, they don't.  They didn't have pilgrims, les pèlerins or Indians, les Indiens d'Amérique.  Just Romans, Huns, Celts and other assorted tribes taking them over thousands of years ago.  French teachers across the U.S. teach their little darlings vocabulary for Thanksgiving or le Jour de l'Action de Grâce, as it has been translated.  I've always thought that sounds a bit strange.  I didn't do that this year.  We've been working on Paris projects in 7th grade, basic food vocabulary in 6th grade, and more complicated food vocabulary in 8th (20 of them will be ordering off Parisian menus in approximately 100 days so this is serious business!). 
WE celebrated with food-- Frenchie-style.  We made crêpes in one 8th grade class.
Modern Family, my favorite TV show, even made a reference to the French and Thanksgiving last night.  Phil was setting up tables for Thanksgiving bistro-style, unbeknownst to Claire, of course, and he told Luke that he bets that's how the French do Thanksgiving.  I hope that some of my students, who also love the show, too, laughed...  please?  Claire changed the tables back to one long one, by the way.
One of my advisees, a piemaker par excellence, made pumpkin pies for us.  Merci, Jacques!  (He treated us to key lime a couple of weeks ago...)
Served with the obligatory Cool Whip, of course. 
The year I made my own whipped cream for Thanksgiving, a huge debate ensued, started by Son #1, about the merits of Cool Whip over the real stuff.  And he took a poll.  I have no idea which one won, but there is a tub of that stuff in my refrigerator waiting for the pumpkin pie I made yesterday.  A great American tradition, folks.
The French have lots - beaucoup- of different ways to express thanks.  They really are a very polite people.  If you remember this and have a few handy phrases in hand (or head!) you will go far.  After you make eye contact and say Bonjour, madame/monsieur/mademoiselle, of course.

Merci bien.
Merci beaucoup.
Merci mille fois.  Mille fois merci.
Merci de...
Merci beaucoup pour...
Merci en avance.
Je vous remercie.
C'est gentil de votre part.
Je ne sais pas comment vous remercier.
Avec tous mes remerciements.

And that just scratches the surface.
Personally, I am filled with gratitude- la gratitude- today.
  • For the sleeping boys upstairs and their sleeping dad.
  • My family, the out-laws, up in the mountains.  I will see them at Christmas.  C'est promis!
  • My in-laws- there are no better ones anywhere.  I'd put money on that.
  • For my friends, both American and French ones, who love me no matter what and make me laugh.
  • For my job -- the colleagues (who are like my family) I get to work with and my students who keep me young and who hopefully learn a few things about life and French. 
  • For the security that job provides me and my family.
  • For living in a wonderful country where I still believe that all things are possible.
  • For living in a great city that continually strives to become even better and doesn't hide it's flaws.  (I don't really care for perfection.  It's taken me a long time to admit this.)
  • For my two goofy cats who get up very early with me every morning and then chase each other around the house like maniacs and go back to bed 15 minutes later while I am still typing away.
  • For this computer and the internet that keep me connected to all those family members and friends and allows me to express myself in this blog.
Okay, time to get the bird - le dindon- ready for the oven.  And to reheat the cinnamon buns I made yesterday (only 3 are missing).  And to make the cranberry-orange relish for moi.  Who knows maybe one of the still-sleeping boys will surprise me and try it today.  Miracles happen.
Today's Thanksgiving menu--
Brie (with little truffle specks in it!)
Goat cheese with herbes de provence
Roasted turkey
Garlic mashed potatoes (served with gravy)
Sauteed green beans
Pumpkin pie
Cherry pie

My mother-in-law made the cherry pie a tradition.  Son #1's birthday always falls right at Thanksgiving (He is 24 today, on November 24th. We will observe a moment of silence around 1:00pm followed by a bubbly toast to his health!)  She made a cherry pie when he was very young and he loved it so much that he asked for it every year after that.  One year, he ate the whole thing by himself.  I am carrying on that tradition...

Bon appétit et Joyeux Jour de l'Action de Grâce à tous!

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