Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving...
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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