A family is like a little ark; it's a micro-culture with its own way of doing things. Like so many of the young families we know, we're working out what will become standard practice aboard our vessel--how to mark the seasons, how to find a rhythm for work and play, how to give reverence where it is due. One thing our sojourn in France has taught us, is that we haven't quite worked out how to celebrate when we're on our own. We missed Thanksgiving and Halloween in 2011. The lion costume was memorable, but this year's Halloween was still a little
Our feast was simple by Thanksgiving standards, but I'm happy to report that it turned out well--all the more tasty for being produced in a windowless kitchen, with a toaster oven and a hotplate and less than three square feet of counter space--thank you very much! It was first Thanksgiving meal that I've cooked, and since putting large cuts of meat into an oven and letting them alone for hours is not normally how I cook, I was immensely grateful that it came out well. I followed the basic plan laid out by this recipe. The meat was succulent and fell right off the bone. We had just two sides---sauteed zucchini and steamed beets. I even improvised "cranberry sauce," using a jar of red berries, "airelles," that my mum bought during her time in France and never got around to using. I added sugar and vinegar to the airelles and it made a serviceable substitute. I baked an apple pie for dessert. The crust didn't come out quite as I would have liked, but I couldn't be more happy with the filling--the Braeburn apples had that excellent tartness and a firm bite that my mum trained me to appreciate in apple pie.
As a prelude to the dinner, Maria and I did a Thanksgiving craft. I carved a feather stamp out of a piece of celeriac (a potato does just as well, but the celariac was more handy in the moment). We stamped tailfeathers onto a piece of paper then added construction bodies and heads. I think I enjoyed it more than Maria, but she humored me and the activity can go down as her introduction to using a stamp.
I had another Thanksgiving Day treat--a phone conversation with friends whom I haven't spoken to in quite a long time. The conversation gave a warmth to the rest of the day. It's always so good rekindle a friendship--to find that affection and understanding remain intact despite time and events.
Around 6:45, Donnie arrived home, bearing bread, wine, and chocolate eclairs. The table was the laid and the girls installed in their highchairs. We said Grace, followed by listing things we are thankful for this year.
We are so very blessed. It is perhaps easiest to feel the truth of this when sitting in front of platters of food, on a table, which, for once, has nary a crumb on it, with a husband who has just brought home chocolate eclairs, and two round-cheeked girls with cleanish faces. We are thankful for our marriage. We are thankful for the two little fillies, who delight and challenge us. We are thankful for our family, far across the ocean (and in Germany too!) and for friends both near and far. We are thankful for Skype, email, Internet phone service, and digital pictures which help shorten the distance to our loved ones. We are grateful for this home in France, with its many pleasures, its bright skies and hidden gardens, it's infuriating systems and sympathetic people. We are thankful too, that we're looking homeward now, that fortune will bring us stateside by the end of the summer. We are thankful for the Burgundy in our glasses, but also thankful that next year our sauce will be made from berries that grew in a New England bog. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Thank you so much for reading!