Last week being Thanksgiving, my classes all did a food unit, building up to a party with snacks. True, gummy bears and chocolate cookies are not the traditional Thanksgiving fare, but my students didn’t seem to mind. There was some misunderstanding as to the meaning of the holiday. This year it fell right next to an Islamic feast day, so a good many of my students asked if it was the same thing when translated. Another kid, when asked why we celebrate Thanksgiving, responded very that, “Americans don’t get many vacations so you had to make up a special day to get time off from work.” The beauty of the Pilgrims and Indians coming together to offer thanks to God was perhaps lost on children intent on securing gummy bears. But, as is tradition, here are some things I am truly thankful for this holiday season, some important, some trivial, all little blessings in my life.
-When you happen to buy bread at a boulangerie just as it is coming out of the oven so you get to eat the crusty end off as you walk away and it is still hot.
-When the bus arrives just as I finish my mad 800 meter sprint from one of my schools to the bus station, getting me to my next school just in time.
-People to spend Thanksgiving with. This was my second Thanksgiving with the Fauveau family, a Franco-American family whose mother is a Wilmore native. I have gotten to know them through my church, and Thanksgiving with their family is a joy. No traditional item was lacking, and because the food was prepared by French women, it is all good. I don’t know what it is, but every French woman seems to be an excellent cook. In fact, someone told me this last weekend that on of the early tests for Alzheimer’s in France is to ask a woman how to make a béchamel sauce. If she forgets a step or ingredient, they suspect early dementia. A test like this would land most American women in treatment. But besides good food, our dinner had the sense of thankfulness, community, and remembrance of our many blessings that really make Thanksgiving what it is. Plus, babies make every holiday better, and little Thomas Kyle, the first grandbaby, obliged by sharing chubby cheeked smiles with everyone.
-Finally getting paid, after almost a month delay on my paycheck. Now that the Long Famine, as I like to call it, is over, I am reveling in being able invite people over, make them dinner, and buy things when they run out. I am also thankful for the wonderful friends who helped me out with toothpaste, groceries, etc. during the Long Famine.-Days when the RER B is not on strike and having no delays. I am being pro-actively thankful on this one, in hopes that it will assist this in becoming a daily blessing.
-When you come around a corridor in the Louvre and find a talented musician performing into the night. True, some French street musicians I would be more quick to pay to go away, but usually the musicians who frequent the arches of the Louvre play in a manner that augments the magic of Paris.
I think as Americans, we are quick to forget the point of Thanksgiving, a day where we are supposed to stop and be truly reflective and thankful for what God has given us, not just eat and watch football. It isn’t just a day to give us some time off since we don’t get 5 weeks of paid vacation. Physically, I was far from the land of Thanksgiving this year, but no pilgrim could have gone to bed that night more content . . . or more full, despite walking the last 4 metro stops and climbing the 8 flights of stairs.