No, that is not some horrible misspelling of Friendsgiving (if it was I think I’d have to immediately resign as an English teacher and do so in complete and utter disgrace). Rather, it is my still quite pathetic but at least slightly less embarrassing attempt at combining french, friends, and thanksgiving into one, all-encompassing word. Much harder than I expected. Luckily, however, the event itself was a much larger success in practice than the word mash was.
My first Thanksgiving in France, two years ago, was a rather large, well, honestly a non-event. Not that I really cared that much one way or the other. I was living in France, where the holiday simply doesn’t exist and enjoying France very much. So the day itself actually snuck up on me, I barely even realized when it arrived. If I had been more aware of the calendar and a better cook (I’m finally learning/teaching myself and enjoying it quite a lot!) than I may have gotten up the courage to make a traditional dish for my host family. But they were quite good cooks themselves and I had no cooking experience outside of pasta and scrambled eggs. Not very Thanksgiving-Feast-esque. We did, however, have some very good mashed sweet potatoes (courtesy of my host parents obviously) as a side and a discussion about the holiday itself for the kids.
This time, though, with my own kitchen and several friends (both American and not) we prepared for a proper Thanksgiving feast! We had wine (and cheese) provided by our french friends while the traditional dishes were made by fellow Americans. All of this was supplemented with other foreign dishes by other assistants from all over the world. It was quite the delicious spread, spent with some amazing people.
I have now spent an entire week trying to explain, over and over (at least twelve times now) the origins and traditions of Thanksgiving to my french students. Students who had barely even heard the name of the holiday before (many of them had not actually). At least I got lots of French practice, as it was too complicated a topic to explain in English. The general idea I gave them was the first thanksgiving was the pilgrims saying thank you to the Native Americans who taught them how to grow and catch food. Today we continue the tradition having a large meal with our families and saying thank you for all the good things in our life. Perhaps a bit of an oversimplification, but it sufficed. However, after our own unique meal the other night I can’t help but find the similarities between that first Thanksgiving feast and our own.
Why do we say we’re thankful for out friends and family? We say it every year, but I don’t think we always think about the specific reason.
But these past couple months we have all been helping each other, learning from each others, and supporting each other. This is reminiscent of the way in which the pilgrims and Native Americans helped each other. And I found it was so amazing to be able to gather with all these wonderful people and acknowledge the role we all play together, and for each other. Our delicious and varied feast, with each of our individual contributions, is so representative of that. Of how we have all come together from all over the world to make this great group of people, always there for each other and despite differences fitting together so well.
So Happy Thanksgiving to all. I hope it was a good one: with full bellies, fun friends, and close family. I hope you all have at least as much to be thankful for as I find that I do this year, and can appreciate the beauty of each of those things and this day. Until next year, may we have even more to be thankful for then!