Debra: The Turkey Hunt
I knew I was in trouble when my mobile phone was disconnected because I spent too long talking to the internet company’s helpline. I remember hearing that the technology behind the World Wide Web was created in France, but people seem able to go without it here — it’s like they see it like premium cable. They don’t mind having it, but they can do without. I found it was pretty difficult to go to internet cafés with a 14-month-old who refuses to sit still (they even have a brand-new family-oriented café with wifi here, but my son seemed to think the kitchen was much more intriguing than the play area. So let’s just say I was pretty desperate to get my internet connection (and phone, since it’s via internet) working again. Three weeks and a lot of plaintive phone calls later, I feel like I’ve just come back from a trip to 1990.
Anyway, the phone got connected the week before Thanksgiving, which kept me from having to go to the butcher in person every day to see how he was progressing on getting me a turkey. He assured me that everything was going to work out — my parents are visiting from San Francisco, and I had invited two other families over, so I was pretty set on getting my bird. He told me he would be closed the Monday before Thanksgiving so I should call him on Tuesday to “confirm.” Of course, when I called him on Tuesday, he told me everything was just fine for Friday….he didn’t seem to understand the concept of the Thursday holiday. So it seems the original turkey I had ordered got a pardon until Christmas!
I called the big grocery stores in the area and no one could get me a turkey until December. On a whim I went to the local market, where I got my very own Thanksgiving mini-miracle — a poultry seller who knew about Thanksgiving and could even find a turkey to kill by Thursday! It cost me 48 euros and it was the skinniest turkey my mother had ever seen, but it sure did taste good. We even had cranberries!
Anyway, it was our first Thanksgiving in France and it made me realize that while I’m still frustrated by a lot of things here — students who plagiarize their essays from wikipedia, crazy drivers, pharmacies that are closed on Monday, everything else that is closed on Sunday — it is starting to feel like home. One of the things that always strikes me is that it really will be home for my son. French will probably be his best language, he won’t think everything here is unusually small, and Thanksgiving will be a strange holiday that only his family celebrates. I live in a foreign country, but he doesn’t — he just has a foreign mother. I shouldn’t think this is too strange, since my mother is also an immigrant. But part of me, as an American, still goes around thinking that I can’t possibly be the foreign one — maybe it’s even because my mother is not a native-born American and always told me I was lucky I was. Anyway, just things I’ve been thinking about in general and in my writing this past month — origins, roots and, well, turkey.