There is no Thanksgiving in France. Well, of course, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, since there weren’t any Pilgrims and Indians and all that. So, no Thanksgiving in France. But neither is there any kind of equivalent holiday. For ex-pat Americans, this is one of the things we miss the most and something that almost all of us tried to replicate as best we could. Sometimes it’s a little tricky since the 4th Thursday of November is just a regular Thursday as far as the French are concerned. Some Americans would take the day off and others would just wait until evening for their Thanksgiving meal, or celebrate another day.
For our first Thanksgiving in France, Mr. Gren and I were delighted to be invited over to the apartment of some friends, along with a few other Americans from our church. But when that Thursday rolled around, Mr. Gren and I both woke up feeling sick as dogs. Sadly, we had to bow out. We spent the next few days sprawled out on the futon, feverish and puking, while we watched reruns of “Friends.” I don’t think that’s why we were sick.
Luckily for us, we didn’t completely miss out. Our church (American in origin) held an annual Thanksgiving dinner and invited the whole church body, plus a few people from the community. It was a huge event that took a lot of work and planning, but it was always a lot of fun. 10-12 turkeys, multiple pans of mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, green beans and pumpkin pies. Our church was made up of people from all over the world and they enjoyed participating in an American tradition with a very American menu. The pumpkin pie was usually the dish met with the most apprehension. For the French, pumpkin is for soups, so to put it in a dessert was very strange to them. We won a few over, though. They especially enjoyed the idea of having a day of gratitude for all of God’s provisions. Une Fête de Grâce.
The church continues the tradition of a community Thanksgiving meal. So I guess I should revise my opening statement: There is Thanksgiving in France. It just looks a little different.