I’d like to take a moment to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving! In the wake of the disaster that was Hurricane Sandy it is important for many of us to realize and reflect on just how much we do have to be thankful for.
This is my second consecutive year spending Thanksgiving abroad. Last year I had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner thanks to Gillian Coughlan, my Irish mother, who made a great dinner and did an excellent job in her first time making sweet potatoes with marshmallows and pumpkin pie (my two favorites!). I’ll never forget the look on everyone’s face in Ireland when I told them about the sweet potatoes with marshmallows. They thought I was crazy. My favorite quote from Thanksgiving dinner last year, something I will never forget, was when Joe took his first bite of pumpkin pie and said “This tastes like a mouthful of America.” I thought that was hilarious, yet instantly understood what he meant. What he was saying was that it tasted awesome!
Last year we also celebrated little Joseph’s 8th birthday, which means number 9 should be right around the corner. So Happy Birthday in advance buddy!!
So now, I’m in France. Thanksgiving is not as well known here as it is in Ireland. And as such, only a few people here have asked me about Thanksgiving or wished me a Happy Thanksgiving, which is OK because do you have any idea how hard it is to describe Thanksgiving in French, when you can only hold simple conversations in the language. It’s not easy task. I went to explain it the other day and then stopped myself and was like “How the f*ck do I say “Pilgrim” in French??”
Anyway, today at work I explained it briefly. I said that the night before Thanksgiving is for drinking a lot with friends. And Thanksgiving day is for spending time with family, eating a ton, giving thanks for all that we cherish, and watching football. Then I came home and decided to Google “How to explain Thanksgiving to a French person.” Sure enough, it was actually a popular search. There’s a guy named Art Buchwald who, in 1996, vividly described how to explain Thanksgiving to the French. Apparently his article is pretty famous and kind of funny. Anyway, here it is:
Explaining Thanksgiving to the French
The Los Angeles Times | November 28 1996 | Art Buchwald
Posted on November 27, 2002 3:12:58 PM GMT+01:00 by LonePalm
A la Recherche du Temps Perdue
By Art Buchwald
Thursday, November 28 1996
The Los Angeles Times
[ In 1953, during my tour of duty with the French Foreign Legion in the Sahara, my tough sergeant from Marseilles said to me, “Why do all the American recruits refuse to eat anything but turkey on this day?”
I told him I was sorry but my lips were sealed. He then poured honey on my head so the ants would get me. That’s when I broke down and talked.]
One of the most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant.
Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of pilgrims (Pelerins) who fled from l’Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde), where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their hearts’ content.
They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Americaine) in a wooden sailing ship named the Mayflower, or Fleur de Mai, in 1620. But while the Pelerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pelerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pelerins was when they taught them how to grow corn (mais). They did this because they liked corn with their Pelerins.
In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pelerins’ crops were so good they decided to have a celebration and because more mais was raised by the Pelerins than Pelerins were killed by the Peaux-Rouges.
Every year on le Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration.
It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilometres Deboutish ) and a shy young lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant:
“Go to the damsel Priscilla (Allez tres vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth (la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action (un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe), offers his hand and his heart — the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you understand, but this, in short, is my meaning.
“I am a maker of war (Je suis un fabricant de la guerre) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (Vous, qui êtes pain comme un etudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best suited to win the heart of the maiden.”
Although Jean was fit to be tied (convenable a être emballe), friendship prevailed over love and went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow (rendue muette par l’etonnement et la tristesse).
At length she exclaimed, breaking the ominous silence, “If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?” (“Ou est-il, le vieux Kilometres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas aupres de moi pour tenter sa chance?”)
Jean said that Kilometres Deboutish was very busy and didn’t have time for such things. He staggered on, telling her what a wonderful husband Kilometres would make. Finally, Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, Jean?” (“Chaçun a son gout.”)
And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes, and for the only time during the year eat better than the French do.
No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grand fête, and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilometres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.
(C) 1996, Los Angeles Times Syndicate.
So there you have it my French friends. That’s kind of what Thanksgiving is.
Anyway, today given the fact that 3/5 of the kids in my family are overseas, (Mac in Afghanistan, Maggie in South Korea, and me here in France) my family opted to go for the non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner. You see, tonight the Jets play the Patriots. I don’t want to talk about the game and the fact that I am going to stay awake for a 2:30am kickoff and be utterly ashamed of my New York Jets at 530am when the game ends. But, my parents, 2 sisters who are Stateside, Beth and Kaitlin, as well as my Aunt, Uncle and cousins are all tailgating and going to the game. Here are my two sisters currently at the tailgate with their arms around their 3 invisible siblings who are there in spirit.
Let’s go JETS!!!!
And speaking of my brother being in Afghanistan, I would once again like to ask everyone to take a moment during the holiday, whether you are with family or friends, and think of all of our soldiers overseas spending the holiday thousands of miles away from loved ones and protecting your right to enjoy your holiday as you wish.
Now I will get a little corny and mention a few things that I am thankful for. First and foremost, my family. I think my family is pretty awesome. I am extremely fortunate to have been born into a big, close-knit family who loves and supports each other. Having a family that supports each other through good times and bad is one of the best things anyone can ask for. We’ve all had our ups and downs but my family has remained constant through it all and I am so grateful for that. Next, I am extremely thankful for my friends. I have the best friends in the world. Back in the States, over in Ireland, and now here in France I have made some great friends. Although I mention them separately from family, the truth of the matter is that my friends are also my family. Once again supporting each other through ups and downs. Always being there for each other no matter what. So I just want to say thanks guys I appreciate every one of you. Also I’m thankful for the opportunities that have been afforded to me over the past couple years. I was working away bartending in New York, substitute teaching, working in gyms, going to school on the weekends and pretty much grinding it out, until the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself for me to go to Ireland. That opportunity effectively changed my life. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in Ireland for a year, meet so many great people, pursue a masters degree, and coach and play the game that I love. In turn, that opportunity is what led me to where I am today. Had I never gone to Ireland, I most certainly would not be living in France now. Meeting a whole new group of great people, learning a new language, and experiencing a new culture. It’s kind of funny the way things work out in life and I’m thankful for where I am today and anxious to see where life takes me!
SO…speaking of a masters degree. Today is not only Thanksgiving in the States, but was also my graduation from NUIG in Galway. I can now effectively say that I graduated from NUIG with a masters in international management. My classmate even saved me a seat at graduation and shared the photo with me.
I wonder if they called my name at graduation. Well, if they did, I’m sure everyone in the place went absolutely nuts! That’s just a given. So congratulations to all my classmates and everyone else who graduated today and over the last month from NUIG.
So that’s that. Happy Thanksgiving everybody and J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!!!!
*Oh and I’m also thankful for the New York Knicks, giving us a team worth watching and hoping for again!