That’s right readers, it’s Thanksgiving. In celebration of this American holiday that my current country has really no idea what it’s all about – someone even had to clarify “you eat turkey, right?” – I’m sporting the All-American I’m-From-NY look. Yup, you guessed it: tall Uggs, tucked into jeans with a ratty, old, torn, should-never-be-worn-in-public-B’Cliff Bears Football sweatshirt. Hey, a girl’s gotta rep her country.
That being said, I’m going to take a turn to slight more serious town and say that while it’s weird actually having classes over this time of holiday cheer, it’s even weirder not being able to spend it with the people who matter most to me – especially when all I want to do is attack my sister with hugs, kissses and assorted Green Wave apparel to congratulate her on her recent admission to Tulane. I honestly could not be prouder and no matter what she decides, I’m behind her 1,000%. AUCP, my program here, is trying to make this not-home-for-the-holidays experience slightly more homey by hosting a Thanksgiving dinner here tomorrow night, so I do get to celebrate with some turkey and 106 of my closest fellow French-speaking Americans and their host families and friends. But there’s something to be said for my grandma’s old recipe of cranberry sauce where she’d always manage to slip ever so slightly on the amount of alcohol she put into the bowl. (Yes, she put alcohol in her cranberry sauce. Yes, that’s what drew me to taste it in the first place.) My mind right now is winding back the calendar pages as it focuses its blurry lens more closely on the Thanksgiving’s that have come before this…the smells of Aunt Lisa’s corn bread which always cause me to lie belly up on the couch, more full than you ever want to be, swearing I’ll never eat again; the sounds of football fans cheering on TV as their favorite quarterback throws a TD deep into the right corner of the endzone (well, unless you’re a Giants fan – then it’s probably just Eli throwing an interception); the little things that remind us of Grandma as we throw stories back and forth across the table, overflowing with steaming plates and smells; the fact that when I look to my right, left, across, even down when Mishu finds his way under the dining room table, I know that I’m home.
I’m so thankful for this experience here in France, it’s something some people only dream of doing let alone actually get the chance to do. But it’s also made me so much more appreciative of what I’ve left behind: good friends, great family and memories that are as much a part of this holiday as is the turkey and stuffing that give it it’s commercial edge and cheer. It’s important to remember on this day of thanks, the words of JFK: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” And so now that I’ve uttered a couple of hundred words, I’m going to go try to live by them, regardless of how far I am from the people who I love the most. Love and miss you, family and friends! I send thousands of kisses, hugs and French amour from my little desk in Aix-en-Provence.