This morning I posted a festive fall picture on Facebook, in celebration of this weekend’s Canadian Thanksgiving.
It was a pretty enough photo, under which I wrote a few words expressing my sentiments for this season to all my fellow Canadians. Unexpectedly, one of my British friends commented and asked if I remembered our Thanksgiving in Paris.
And instantly I was transported . . .
It was ten years ago to the day. I was 23 and I lived on Boulevard Saint Michel, in a stately old Parisian building that housed an international women’s residence.
We were all in the same predicament in that place; strangers in a strange land. Struggling to learn a new language. Adapting to a culture different than our own. And ever so far away from our loved ones.
Yet, somehow, I was still determined to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving.
And so I wrote my mother and asked her to ship a box across the Atlantic full of what I considered indispensable supplies: packages of Swiss Chalet dipping sauce (to act as gravy), and boxes of Stove Top Stuffing. Everything else I was sure I could find in Paris. While in the end I was right, I recall paying a princely sum for cranberry sauce at an American grocery store (the size of a thimble) in the Marais.
The lead-up to Thanksgiving was so exciting. I invited all my girlfriends, and one of my male friends from back home (who just happened to be living in the city at the same time). With the exception of my one Canadian friend, everyone else had never celebrated Thanksgiving and they were excited beyond words.
Turkeys were not common in Paris, so instead I ordered several large chickens and asked the local butcher to roast them for me. As I prepped the rest of the dinner, I sent my friends to pick-up the chickens for me. I don’t know where those chickens were from (maybe Brest) but the butcher knew they were for Thanksgiving and to this day I am convinced he gave us his very best. The chickens were juicy, the flesh was almost yellow, just fatty enough . . . honestly the best chickens I have ever tasted.
Of course we also needed an apple based dessert. At home, we would have had apple pie but since we were in France, we had tart tatin instead.
It’s been 10 years and my friends still talk about that Thanksgiving. And while the food was indeed delicious, the memories we hold so very dear are about much more than the way things tasted. We were genuinely happy sitting around our makeshift Thanksgiving table. We ate, drank, and laughed the night away . . .
Many thousands of miles from home, I found a family in Paris. The friendships I made during that time have irrevocably marked my life in the best of ways.
And so Thanksgiving 2003 still remains the most memorable Thanksgiving of my life.
Note: The photographs featured in this post are iPhone snaps of photographs I took during that time in Paris. All with the exception of the Eiffel Tower shot, were taken hanging out my window on Boulevard Saint Michel. Also, for those that don’t speak French, the title of this post comes from a lyric of a Patrick Bruel song that speaks of friends meeting ten years down the road (to see what has become of their lives).
Question: Is there a Thanksgiving that stands out in your memory? What makes that particular dinner (or weekend) so memorable?