This was my first Thanksgiving away from my family. On the plus side, I had 2 Thanksgiving celebrations this year: one in Seville with mostly Spaniards/Europeans on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, and one today in Paris with mostly Americans on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. During today’s celebration, it occurred to me that I should compare and contrast them.
Thanksgiving in Spain
In Seville, I felt like Thanksgiving was our attempt at showing the Spaniards and other Europeans an American celebration. My friend, the host of the dinner, and I were the only Americans there. While I think a Sevillian or two may have brought a bottle of wine, my friend provided most of the food and drinks, and I brought a dessert. Generally, when you want me to assist at a dinner, you want me to bring dessert. I’ll buy a cheap wine but I’ll splurge on a great dessert (which I also did in France). I went to a bakery I like and got this triple chocolate tart, a cheesecake type thing. I’ve had it before, it’s delicious.
Anyway, since this celebration was on a weekday, I had my classes and several things to do before dinner. It’s all a blur to me exactly what I did that day, but I remember being exhausted by the time I got to the dinner.
My friend did a great job cooking and preparing food. We had a turkey, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and bread with brie. She made a couple apple pies for dessert and I had my dessert. The Europeans loved the food, I don’t think they’re used to eating so much lol.
The guests consisted of myself, my classmates at the time, who were 2 Germans and a Dutch guy, and a bunch of Spaniards (including a teacher of mine and another teacher at my school). Pretty much no English was spoken save for a few sentences I said to my friend about how long my day was.
As tired as I was, I just felt like sitting and not doing anything for a bit, especially since I’d have to socialize in Spanish, but my friend encouraged me to talk a bit. I did, and I had a good time.
Thanksgiving in France
This Thanksgiving seemed to be our way of celebrating the holiday away from our families. My sister’s best friend from school was the host, and her host mom left her use the kitchen and dining room (I think she and her husband went out for the night). My sister cooked a few things, and she wanted to bake some cookies too but I told her I’d bake them since she had so much to do. Originally they were going to be double chocolate cookies, with chocolate batter and a bar of white chocolate broken up into chunks, but for me that wasn’t good enough. I said if I’m going to put my name on these cookies, we need a bar of dark chocolate to put in the batter too. So they were triple chocolate cookies, and were a hit at the dinner.
The guests were mostly Americans, all students of some sort in Paris save for my sister and I. Two of the host’s French friends were there, one had to leave early (since it took a while before we ate dinner because we had to wait for people to show up). Since the guests were mostly Americans, there was no problem having other people bring/make stuff. At the house, the host cooked some ginger salmon, another fish dish, and some green beans, my sister made some sweet potato pie (and fyi, sweet potatoes in Europe are white, not orange), mac and cheese, and a salad, I made my cookies and got some bread, someone else made some Nigerian rice, someone made some matzoh ball soup, someone else made an apple crisp, someone brought a lot of drinks, and someone else brought napkins, plates, silverware, and some wine (part of the reason we waited as long to eat as we did was because we had no plates/silverware to use).
With the French guests that were here, a mixture of French and English was spoken, but among the rest of us mostly English was spoken. My sister speaks no French and mine is limited (although I must say, I feel like a prodigy with the amount I understand given my extremely limited education in French). Random, but the host mom here is half-Spanish, so there is indeed a member of the household who can talk to us in a language we understand.
In Europe in general, I speak little English. My sister’s program is all Americans, so she speaks a fair amount of English, whereas I hear that my school has a lot of Americans, but being in the more advanced classes I don’t know any of them save for my one friend in my last class (the host at the Sevillian Thanksgiving). So I pretty much just speak English with my sister and if I’m with her friends, during the English lessons I give (but when I email/text my students, it’s in Spanish), and to myself, although I think a lot in Spanish. Anyway, this dinner was the first time I’ve spoken so much English in a while. I had a lot of fun, laughed a lot, and met some great people.
Both dinners were great, and both were fun in different ways. Definitely a memorable holiday.