My heart is overflowing with joy.
I came to France three months ago, nervous as could be, not knowing anyone. I moved into a strange house with a family compiled of 4 other cultures, not sure if I would ever feel at home. And now, I not only have a second home in Saint Etienne, France, but a second family, both in my French family and my friends of France.
This past week I toasted and cheered and ate all in the name of thanks with my family in France.
In October, I celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with my friends, where we spent a night of laughing, singing, and best of all eating. I hadn’t thought of trying to make Thanksgiving, I had already accepted that my year in France would pass without it. But after seeing that it could be done, my hostessing mind began planning immediately. My mom was able to send some ingredients from the States when my best friend Abbey came to visit, she brought with her all the goods: Velveeta cheese (the French would be ashamed), canned pumpkin, and a spice cake mix!!
Thanks to my amazing mother, who not only supplied the most important ingredients, but also some of the recipes and her very wise wisdom, which I called upon a LOT when preparing the meal, everything came together!
I began preparations and cooking three days before. Yes, I cooked for three days (I am still the same person, and I am also shocked by my hard work in the kitchen). Breaks of course where taken to attend class, buy forgotten items, but no naps were taken (all the world is shocked). I cooked like I never have before, possibly never may again!
Menu of Thanksgiving meal
Appetizers (kept it simple): crackers, lots and lots of cheeses, peppers, celery, and of course wine
Entrée: stuffing, broccoli, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, mac&cheese, sweet potato casserole, rather thick gravy, homemade rolls, 2 baked capons (chicken)
Dessert: apple pie & vanilla ice cream and a pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting
The meal, while not technically celebrated on Thanksgiving, as it had to be moved to November 25 for logistical purposes, was in all other senses a true American Thanksgiving! A lot of eating, all the usual dishes, and even some sweet tea! I was really nervous the night before, fretting that things wouldn’t turn out right, or something would be forgotten. It’s the perfectionist in me. While I was a little afraid my food might taste like sand, and that I would disappoint everyone… I was able to overlook that because I was so excited for the opportunity and privilege to share such a special tradition in my culture with my new friends of other cultures. To share our thanks with those who we are most thankful for. To work a little extra in the kitchen, so that we may break bread together and share appreciation for this beautiful thing that life is.
And everything was absolutely wonderful! My food was praised by many, and all was eaten. Toasts were made, bellies grew, and thanks were shared.
Despite being without my actual family, this was one of my most blessed and amazing Thanksgiving’s to date. I felt so loved and encouraged by each of my sweet friends who came, only making the reason for the cooking so much more evident. The family that I have here in France is made up of many cultures and languages and is different and amazing and funny and loving! I would never have thought three months ago that I could be so lucky as I today.