Okay, so I'm really just a horrible procrastinator and have not gotten around to writing about the absolutely phenomenal Thanksgiving celebration we had at Kinzie's apartment. So here we go!
On Thanksgiving, I got to school to plan lessons for a bit, then went to lunch. Because of a group of American high-schoolers who were visiting, the cafeteria had made "Thanksgiving dinner"! There was turkey with airelles, which are huckleberries. Or maybe bilberries. Or perhaps whortleberries. My dictionary doesn't even know. In any case, they're the closest thing to cranberries that exists on this continent, and they're pretty good, just smaller. Because everything is bigger in America, as I tell my students. There was also Waldorf salad (with a helpful explanatory note, because the French kids were confused), spicy potatoes, and lemon meringue pie, all of which was incredibly good. It was really sweet of the cafeteria workers to do that - we all appreciated it very much.
After lunch, I had 4 hours of class in a row, so I did 4 hours of Thanksgiving lessons in a row. I showed the kids a lot of pictures of foods and of my family ("This is my cousin, and that's one of my aunts, and my uncle, and another aunt, and another cousin, and a few more uncles..." "Madame? Vous... euh, you 'ave a very large family?" "Yes, my father is one of eight children." "QUOI? Euh... what?") and of Bush pardoning the turkey because this picture is absolutely priceless:
So the lessons went pretty well - it got a bit noisy but the kids were interested for the most part. I was exhausted, though, so when I went home I had to relax a bit before starting to make the pear crumble I'd promised for the meal.
The crumble finished baking 3 minutes before we had to leave, so my roommates and I set out for Kinzie's house, a few minutes away. Lauryn made cranberry relish that had apples and walnuts and other delicious things in it, and Megan made green beans with garlic and almonds that made the whole house smell like buttery garlic. We were definitely already in a Thanksgiving mood. When we arrived at Kinzie's, we met her mother, grandmother, and little brother, who are all incredibly lovely people. Sharing Thanksgiving with them was truly special, because it felt like they all adopted us for the day when we couldn't spend it with our own families. Kinzie's roommates Fabi (Costa Rican) and Xiao Liu (Chinese) were also there, as well as another American assistant, Darcy. And the food... Kinzie's family had been cooking all week, I swear, and Fabi made goat cheese and caramelized onion appetizers, and Xiao Liu made sautéed mushrooms and eggplant, and there were mashed potatoes and cornbread and real stuffing and noodles and carrots and olives and asparagus and oh my sweet lord in heaven it was all SO GOOD. I apologize for the blurriness but I was, understandably I think, a tad eager to eat at that point:
Also, there was way more alcohol there than at my family's Thanksgivings, which is a tradition I may just have to bring back - I brought my Calvados & Crème from last year (it tastes a bit like Bailey's) and my Bénédictine (sweet nectar of the gods) and there was wine and cider and it was nice.
Here is my plate, photographed while we were going around the room saying what we were thankful for:
It was a bilingual party, so everyone who could said what they were thankful for in French for Xiao Liu and Fabi, and then Kinzie translated for her family. It was wonderful to hear everybody's heartfelt thanks, especially since we were all away from home and needing our traditions. I am so lucky to be in France, in Rouen, and to have met all these incredible people. Especially incredible people who eat Thanksgiving with chopsticks:
"I'm much more comfortable like this!" she says.
So we ate and drank and ate some more and drank and had dessert (my crumble came out beautifully!) and talked about France and the US and our families and all in all it was one of the best Thanksgivings I've ever had. Sometimes you have to change your traditions a little to figure out what exactly a holiday means to you, and I've never felt this thankful to be where I am, doing what I'm doing, with the people I'm with. Life is good.