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Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving...

Updated on January 11, 2012

Thanks For That...

Thanksgiving in England is a Thursday. That would be a regular run of the mill ordinary day after Wednesday and the day before Friday. Turkeys remain un-beheaded with almost a month of freedom remaining. It always seems to surprise my American friends, but, we don't celebrate this particular holiday in the UK. You see, we were unwelcome guests in so many lands that we colonized, that, to be honest, if we celebrated them all, the only days we would work would be never.

To my eyes, it is the most American of holidays and I am a total fan. It's like a training run for the events of Christmas, though Christmas no longer exists. In its place is the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-faith, thing called the winter holidays, so have a happy one y'all.

Thanksgiving is a family time, and the entire nation somehow reverts back to the fifties. Instead of drive through dining, people actually sit at a table and eat real food. I kid you not when I say that this may be one of only a few days a year that those glorious Lemon County kitchens are used for their intended purpose.

The clichéd repast is taken directly from a Norman Rockwell painting in a staggeringly high percentage of homes. Honestly, it's great. I discovered pecan pie (can't quite get into pumpkin pie though), for one thing. And what about those green beans with crispy fried onions? Seriously, by adding flavor and crunch even the most discerning of junior diners eat their vegetables.

Everything about the meal from the cranberry relish (She makes a particularly spectacular version), and the carrots with almonds, to the sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping, gets a giant thumbs up from this transplanted Brit. The only (minor) lump in the gravy is the Jello thing. Almost twenty years on and I can't quite understand the need for that particular dish. Why in the midst of the brown and crispy vicinity of the gobbler is there a wobbly blob that never pretends to be anything other than desert in my homeland? But I digress, that's just nitpicking.

So wearing sweaters we frolic through the leaves with our Labradors. No wait, that's the L.L. Bean catalog, but it is a cozy time, and how incredibly smart is it to have a holiday where you give thanks. (Which are cheaper than gifts, but turn out to be better, and don't take up space in the garage)

First of all I am incredibly grateful that She-Who-Is-Adored has not thrown me out of the house. As the breadwinner (would that make me the bread loser?) she would be fully justified in replacing me with a Labrador and a pair of mittens from the aforementioned catalog (we got our fifteenth copy of it today).

In my favor, I do not poop on the living room floor, and the furniture-chewing thing is a thing of the past. I do like being stroked on my tummy though.

So thanks go first and foremost to She. Then there are my friends, real and Internet, who have encouraged me to keep writing when every single one of them thinks that I should just grow up and get a real job. Thanks also go to my Mother, who not knowing what the Internet is, thinks I am doing something vaguely dirty every day.

So, after all that waxing lyrical about Thanksgivings past, my favorite thanksgiving contained none of the above ingredients, except the thanks bits.

Son two decided that he needed a semester abroad to get out of the most depressing student accommodations on planet earth. (RIP Butler Hall)

He chose, because he is an exceedingly smart cookie, Paris.

This meant, obviously, that we would have to join him in Paris on the next available holiday. Which happened to be Thanksgiving. Let me tell you, Paris is springtime, the romantic “must do”, is way overrated. Sure you can sit outside the sidewalk cafes and watch the blossom force itself out of the former stick into splendiferous beauty, but so passé. (As they actually say in Paris.)

The real traveler, the true Bon Vivant, goes in late November. True the air coming of the grey slick Seine is cold enough to freeze your eyeballs, and much appropriate clothing is required, but the pay-off is spectacular.

You are in fact the only tourists in town, so service is unbelievably good. Crowds in the Louvre? no chance. We had an entire wing to ourselves. In fact if we'd asked, the helpful folk would have brought the paintings to us. We got to meet genuinely friendly Parisians, a little perplexed, sure, but even with my schoolboy French massacring their beautiful language, we were welcomed like friends, not the loonies that we were.

Plus, let me wine for a second here, Beaujolais Nouveau, the last remnants of summer hidden in a bottle and produced just in time for, well, Thanksgiving actually. This fruity almost-wine is everywhere, and due to its non-vintage status, has to be drunk before mid-December. I love that the French give themselves this task every year, and I’m game for helping my Gallic brothers wherever I can.

So, in this manner, an Englishman got to celebrate a holiday that the English don't know about, with his American family, in Paris, which was busy having a pretty regular Thursday in November. We sat atop the Pompidou Center in the spectacular Georges restaurant. This gastronomic paradise, with a near 360-degrees view of a crystal clear Parisian panorama, should be on everyone’s bucket list.

And boy, were we ever thankful...

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    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      I don't know the song, but that might be a by-product of geography rather than age. I'm glad you are not alone at Thanksgiving, but I understand the complexity of the family dynamics. I'm currently under physical threat from my Brother-in-Law-but-separated-from-his-wife, who hates me. Apprently I insulted her by offering to cook this year as I was not working...

      If I sent you an Aggies TShirt would the fam see it as satire or provocation?

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      I've heard of Punch, of course - but never had access to it. Sounds most entertaining, though being deprived of much of the modern satirical humor has crippled me for life, I'm sure. I always intended to read MAD magazine but somehow when it was so popular, my mobility was limited. If subscription offers didn't come to my mailbox, I didn't have a lot of opportunity to acquire them.

      How interesting to hear your personal perspective of having an unusual uncrowded opportunity to behold the Mona Lisa - and her fellow fine paintings - without others' heads blocking the view! Perhaps November is an optimum time to visit Paris, after all! I sort of like off-beat & off-season venues.

      I'm pleased to have just received my invitation for Thanksgiving in Austin with all the right-wing, rabid University of Texas and all things "heart of Texas"- relatives of my late husband's son's. It will be fun. I enjoy riding down with my stepson and catching up with visiting with him. And I love sleeping on my step-granddaughter's couch cuddled in the down comforter she brings out of the coat closet for me. I'm always offered a bed upstairs, but I prefer the couch. Everyone else sleeps upstairs, so I can peck away at my laptop as long as I wish, access the fridge before anyone else wakes in the morning to get & eat the orange I bring along as a pittance of my usual bowl of fruit every morning, (since it is an anti-fresh-produce household).

      This is not the household I described above, however. That one dissolved in divorce. The ex-wife won't be joining us this time, though she often does, but even then, she is no longer the primary cook. She is not the mother of my stepson's progeny, but still has a pleasant relationship with them, and even with their mother, who is a great cook, too. Anyway I'm in for a treat and am spared a quiet Thanksgiving on my own. I can handle a day or two of burnt-orange and white everywhere (UT colors) and Tea-Party sympathy without protesting. Ah, modern families! LOL. One Christmas, a cousin who worked in the Bush White House (before the new inaugeration) was among the guests. He'd arrived on AirForce One, in fact. It's like a visit to another dimension!

      It does seem we have a mu-tu-al ad-mir-a-tion so-ci-e-ty in progress. Are you old enough to remember that song?

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      Being put in the same sphere as Sue and Stan is high praise. For years I read the satirical magazine, Punch, in England. Sadly the publication is no longer with us. But the humor I am finding here on hubpages is simply extraordinary and takes me back to those days of monthly cover to cover reading... If only more unhubby people knew about this!

      I love the champagne thing, might try it myself, and the salad...

      maybe later, I'm kind of full.

      The Louvre was a genuinely strange experience. We stood in the room with the Mona Lisa, which was empty of tourists, and looked at all the other fine paintings in there. Most visitors only get to see the back of other people's heads and have no idea that there are other paintings in the salon. The guard was so happy to see fellow humans he started talking to us, letting the frustrated tour guide into the open.

      And the Georges restaurant...unbelievable. A shimmering gem of a memory,

      We have quite a mutual admiration society going on here...


    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Honestly Chris - you are surely the wittiest, cutest, funnest person on my follow-list. I just cackled like a turkey full of jello as I read along! I agree about the wobbly blob next to the lovely bird, but here in Texas we do it a little better, though even more desserty. We let it jell, then beat it to a fluff and add whipped cream and crushed cranberries and freeze it - take it out shortly before the bird comes out of the oven so it can begin to thaw - and honestly - I could forego even the green bean casserole and candied sweet potatoes just for that "salad" as it is called. Well - there is no sign of anything green or fresh on the table other than the green bean thing. My present relatives are sort of anti-fresh vegetarians, you see. But one can bear up under any deprivation for one day.

      Besides, they serve cranberry champagne. It's incredibly good, believe it or not. Not made with cranberries. A blob of frozen cranberry juice is added to the champagne. Like a mimosa only pink and Thanksgivingy.

      I love both pumpkin and pecan pie but might as well go for the one with more calories, so I take pecan - preferable with whipped cream on top. Some folks take both. This is a day for thanks, not calorie-counting!

      Your Paris Thanksgiving is something else too. They'd bring the paintings in the Louvre to YOU! hahahahah! ohnygosh. You are so clever.

      What fun!!

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      Good for you. I think Birthdays should be a day that you automatically get off from work. And if it falls on the weekend, then you sould get the Friday or the Monday off for preparation/recovery. You should also get to choose two people to be off with you. So, if they ever make me King or President of the World, it is absolutely on my agenda...

      And have a very Happy Birthday - the first day of the best year of your life...


    • quicklysilver profile image

      quicklysilver 7 years ago from wexford, ireland

      Every five or six year my birthday falls on Thanksgiving Day but my country also refuses to celebrate this fine day. So please do not think about poor turkeys on this day, but about how I miss out on an extra big meal and big drinking session and a day of work. Although I am very childish and I always take the day off on my birthday.

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California

      Sticking your tongue out over the internet will do that to a person. Funny bone needs a rest at times. I wrote a very serious, very long, email without a single funny bit today. A personal best.

      Won't be doing that again, in a hurry.

    • sueroy333 profile image

      Susan Mills 7 years ago from Indiana

      Ahh, I'm tired today, there was all that good stuff I missed. Thanks for throwing it in there. You never fail to make me laugh.

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      I think it was "Thanks for letting us steal your land, and by the way here are some European diseases that you have no immunity to, oh, and thanks for the food that saved our sorry butts."

      Are Americans aware that the Pilgrims were too uptight even for the English! Brave I grant you.

      Pretty rough on the original inhabitants, and murder on the Turkey population,

      We also colonized: India, Canada, China (the good bits by the coast) Australia and innumerable African states. We now have to publicly apologise and give everyone their ball back. There's nothing more pathetic than an old bully...

    • sueroy333 profile image

      Susan Mills 7 years ago from Indiana

      Englanders would, of course, shy away from anything to do with Thanksgiving. This did not surprise me.

      Weren't the colonists giving thanks that they didn't have to share their turkey with King George 'cause he was to far away? I'm pretty sure that's what Thanksgiving is all about. That and the fact that they got to wear those cool looking pilgrim outfits.

      I like the idea of having a short amount of time to polish off a large amount of wine. Why they don't call that Thanksgiving in Paris is a mystery for sure!