Thanksgiving is far and above my favorite holiday of the year. I think I love it so because it hasn’t been commercially hijacked (although the lines at Costco this morning does put some holes in this thought), and it revolves around giving thanks, being with our loved ones, and pausing to reflect on our own personal bounty.
Call me sentimental, but I guess I feel abundantly thankful. In that spirit I thought I would share with you the story of my favorite Thanksgiving memory.
I spent August of 1979 to February of 1980 living as a college student in Besancon, France. It’s about 3 hours by train East of Paris and only about 45 minutes from the Swiss boarder. I was on a study abroad program organized by The State University of New York, New Paltz. Rather than living with families, those of us in the program lived in college dorms and in-town apartments. We Americans gravitated to one another and became fast friends.
As Thanksgiving approached we realized that our host country would be oblivious. That was not, however, going to dampen our efforts to celebrate our uniquely American holiday. My cohort was Kathy. She and I declared the Wednesday and Thursday of Thanksgiving week our own personal holiday and cut classes for two full days. We had access to a friend’s apartment with its unbelievably undersized range (I recall 2 burners and an oven about 24 inches wide). We had no recipes whatsoever.
The first task was grocery shopping. We had no vocabulary for turkey, cranberries, or stuffing. And did you know that when you try to describe jello to a cashier in France in 1979, that they would have no idea whatsoever what you are talking about? The high point of the purchasing was going into a butcher shop and finding a small turkey, probably 12 or 15 pounds, with a bow tied onto it! That butcher had either been to the U.S. or watched a lot of TV.
Cooking was a total adventure. Remember that I mentioned we had no recipes? It was “my Mom does it this way” and “I think I remember my Mom doing this”. Some how we pulled it off.
I recall about 10 of us, all American students, sitting down to a very memorable meal. The part I recall most fondly, aside from laughter and amazement that we had somehow pulled off Thanksgiving, was realizing we had no electric mixer to make whipped cream. We poured the heavy cream into a bowl, added a fork, and passed that bowl around the table with each of us taking turns hand mixing until we had traditional whipped cream. It was just so memorable.
I really do love Thanksgiving. This year I am thankful for my health, that my recent college graduate daughter has a job, that my son has healed from his injury and will soon be discharged from the Marines, that the remainder of my family and friends are in good health and a part of my life. I am also thankful, as a Realtor, to have business in this economy. So I am thankful to my clients who put their trust in me and allow me to be their Realtor.
I think a really wonderful reflection on Thanksgiving was in this morning’s Oregonian. Shoshana Winebury of Seattle reflects on the meaning of Thanksgiving as seen through her experience teaching refugees English as a second language. For the full story, click here.
I want to wish you a lovely Thanksgiving. No matter your place in life, no matter your circumstances, Thanksgiving is a day to reflect and feel gratitude.