We have now spent one of the major holidays away from home. Although since it is not a major holiday here, it felt a little low key in the build up. I did bring the Americans out of the woodwork, though. “Did you order a turkey?” “Did you make a trip to the Thanksgiving store (yes, such a thing exists)?” “Did you spend 7 euros for a can of pumpkin (no)?” Some of our American friends that have other family in town celebrated last weekend or still have plans for today or tomorrow. But those of us here on our own attempted to cobble together a Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving.
With no holiday here, the kids had school and Tom still worked. And when you don’t have to worry about a turkey (no, I didn’t order one of those for around $150), or preparing for lots of guests, your day isn’t too crazy. In fact, I had a perfectly lovely day, one I’m very thankful for.
After the school drop off, I joined four others at a cafe for cafe creme and chocolate chaud (hot chocolate). I order mine with chantilly (whipped cream). All of these moms also have kids in Elizabeth and Julian’s Adaptation class. So it was a nice couple of hours to share stores and laugh a bit. At times like this, it’s not much different than home: moms talking about the teacher and the school with varying levels of opinions; talking about work or, in some of their cases, looking for work in a new place; sharing stores about their children; comparing life in Paris to life in Shanghai or London or New York. Just regular people trying to make life good for themselves and their families. Aren’t we all???
The American Cathedral has a Thanksgiving mass in conjunction with the American Church of Paris (why don’t corral us all together?!?) and I thought that might be a great way for me to make the day more of a holiday. So after making my dressing and prepping the mashed potatoes and apple pie, I headed off to the Cathedral around noon.
I don’t go to church alone very much, but I have noticed that when I do, there is something very special about those moments. Oh, I love going to church as a family…don’t get me wrong. Our family has our favorite pew in Middleton, we give each other “looks” depending on what might be going on during the service and Tom & I share many stolen glances…most quite humorous. The same is true for us here. Elizabeth and Julian has Sunday School during the first half of the service and then join us for the second half. We has a regular section we sit in (not quite the front row like St. Bernard’s but we’re up there!). And we are all enjoying the music and attempting not to get tripped up on the nuances of the prayers that we were so familiar with back home but are just a bit different here. And the stolen glances continue. But I digress.
Was the service spectacular? No. Was the cathedral packed? No. Was the music swelling? No. But it was honest and quiet and real. One thing I really liked was they read the Obama’s complete proclamation of Thanksgiving Day. I love when churches bring together God’s teachings with today’s real world.
The Youth Minister from the the American Church gave the homily (young guy, been here with his wife for about a year and a half) and focused his talk on the Gospel passage. This reading was exactly what I needed to hear right now in my life. I have been fortunate (I hope) to have inherited many of my Mom’s wonderful qualities. But one other trait slipped in: worry. Yes, I can be a bit of a worrier and sometimes need a kick in the seat of the pants to get me back on track. This reading was it for me on Thursday. And although some of us don’t share the same religious beliefs, I feel compelled to share the passage. Many of you will be familiar with parts of it but pay particular attention to the line in bold. It’s from the gospel of Matthew:
Jesus said, “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things, and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Yep. Just what I needed on Thanksgiving. That kick to remind me that I already have everything I could ever need. You all included.
Oh, and the Youth Minister did want to remind us how truly thankful we should be to be living in Paris by quoting Thomas Wolfe:
When good Americans die they go to heaven. When very good Americans die they go to Paris.