I have just realized that today marks the first year anniversary of the Renestance blog! Looking back at that first Thanksgiving Day entry, I see two things are the same: 1) we’ve come a long way this past year, and 2) there is still a lot to be thankful for.
Some of you might be wondering about how Thanksgiving is celebrated in France. Well the French do not celebrate it, but we North Americans* usually find a way to mark the occasion, even if we don’t get the day off. If there is an organization hosting a Thanksgiving Day celebration, it is normally held the weekend before or after the official day. Since we’ve been living in Montpellier, for example, we attend the American Women’s Group celebration, which is a very popular and delicious event. International churches, associations and even some international schools may also host Thanksgiving festivities. Another option is for friends and families to gather in someone’s home – Jennifer on our Renestance team will be courageous enough to host 20 people on Saturday!
The tricky part can be finding certain traditional foods in France…especially a large turkey. You can sometimes special-order one from your neighborhood butcher, but they are typically a fraction of the size that we’re used to.
Cranberries and pumpkin are not always easy to find, either. But American products are becoming more widely available in France, and you also figure out good substitutes over time. I recall many years ago, I wanted to make a pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving. Since I didn’t yet know that Speculoos cookies made great substitutes for graham crackers, and Philly cream cheese was not yet sold in French grocery stores, I ended up spending around $40 at the specialty American food store for all of the ingredients!
The other funny part about celebrating Thanksgiving in France is that you are forced to understand the reason and history behind it. The whole concept is a bit strange for people who live in a country that was not settled by immigrants, so you will find yourself explaining the holiday at least once per year, guaranteed. As it’s my favorite holiday, I don’t mind expounding on the meaning of it – it even makes me proud that our nation sets aside a day to give thanks. It is hard to transmit the importance of the big meal to our French hosts however, since it’s a French tradition to gather your extended family around a large meal…every Sunday.
So I’m still thankful to be living in this beautiful country, to have this exciting mission, and to have the support of so many wonderful people like you. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving today or not, I do hope this season brings you love, good health, peace and joy.
* Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated the second Monday in October, and American Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November.