Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving

Our first French Thanksgiving was fun - though the kids were sad we sacrificed this perfect heart shaped potatoe for the occassion.
We had our friends over and all the food turned out pretty good - stuck to what I know. Zander was a bit dissappointed with the mashed pototoes since I make red skin potatoes with skins still on, mashed lumpy (yum) and he likes "Grandpa's" mashed potatoes - no skins and absolutely NO lumps. He wants Grandpa to make these for him when he goes home for a visit.


Here is the table - special thanks to Grammie for sending the sparkly pumpkin ribbon and turkey craft! Daddy also tried to do a paper mache turkey with them - unfortunately it was a no go...not enough glue and the structure just sort of fell apart when we tried to paint it. Luckily one of the strange pumpkin like things from the fete de citrouille was still around the house as well as orange napkins so we pulled it off.

Our guests enjoyed the food and were espeicially interested in the cranberry sauce - they had never had it before - apparantly there are no cranberries in France. I had shipped a few cans over (and a few cans of pumpkin) on the boat. When I think about it, I realize that there is no cranberry juices here that I have seen but never made the connection. Robin (their baby) loved the pumpkin soup and flourless chocolate cake - well, the baby has good taste!

One interesting thing about French culture (or maybe just Besancon culture) is that when people come to your house, they bring a gift. Often they bring a gift for each child in your family PLUS a gift for the hosts. This even happens when we invite a child over for a playdate. When Lea came over she had a Littlest Pet Shoppe wrapped up for Callie and a bag of Christmas candy for the family. At a playdate.... OK, it's true, when I am invited over for dinner, my reaction is usually to ask, what should I bring? (for the meal, like dessert or something) and if they say 'nothing' I bring flowers or something anyway. Guests usually don't ask this question here (though they sometimes do). Usually they just bring a gift wrapped something - most popularly books for the children. They have very interesting coloring books here for kids - I have never seen anything like them in the USA. As you can see, they are already half colored in - it is like a model to follow - Griffin LOVES them and has a great time coloring it in (although he rarely follows the model).

Well, back to Thanksgiving. Probably the best part of the evening was getting a chance to speak to many relatives in our families that we haven't spoken to since we left home - luckily the kids were in the mood to talk which was great for my family. They miss them a lot but often just don't feel like talking when the phone rings. Since the calls, they are talking more about missing their aunts and uncles, not just Grammie and Grandpa. It was also great fun to hang out after the kids were in bed with Sevrigne and Christoff - they are good company and Robin (their one year old) is adorable. He played with Griffin's animal farm and I sang lots of American songs to him and he loved them. It was very interesting to hear how they pay for a nanny for Robin but the government helps out with some funds as well as tax breaks on the money they do have to spend. Hopefully some day America will start these kinds of programs. They didn't really understand how American parents can afford to pay for childcare if it costs so much and there is no help. I had no answer for that - I know that, for us, I would have to make a lot to pay for the care that would be needed for the kids if I worked, even with 2 at school most of the time.

We didn't have dinner until 7pm (which is actually quite early by French standards). Had dessert around 8:30 (not nearly enough time to digest - but thank goodness we found whipped cream in a can - can't have pumpkin pie without it!) and our guests didn't leave until around 10:30 - this meant we cleaned up the perishables and went to bed. The next morning I cleaned up and washed the mountain of dishes. It made me sad for home where we always washed and dried that mountain together, joking and laughing the whole time. I remember getting out of this by playing board games with my cousins Lauren and PJ when I was a kid and another year when I dropped an entire stack of ceramic plates - smash! But mostly I remember the times in Ringwood when we rotated in and out of the corner where the dish rack was wedged near the oven, wiping and putting away and trying to keep ahead of whoever was the appointed dishwasher. I remember having these thin towels that quickly got soaking wet but I kept using it anyway. I knew where most things went but Mom was the only one who knew where the wierd 'holiday'' dishes went - this is true now in Duckhaven too. Although in Philly I always had an electric dishwasher, I still like handwashing dishes and to this day I am a very fast dishwasher. I remember we used to ask my dad to buy a dishwasher and he would say "but I already have 4 dishwashers" (i.e. us). This same sarcastic logic would apply for requests to purchase a garage door opener or get a snow plow. (Now you know where I get it from) Recently I have started having the kids take turns cleaning up an entire meal with me after it is over (not simply clearing their plates) and Callie and Zander are becoming good dishwashers as well (if Griffin wipes the table and puts away the drinks, I'm happy.

Anyway, hope you all had good Thanksgivings. We are thankful for you!

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