In the week of Giving Thanks in the USA, we, as a COLLECTIVE Expat/Migrant online community, should totally hijack the celebration!! Why not! Giving thanks is a good thing. Absolutely! Any excuse to take a step back and give thanks to our fellow women, don't you think? Even if just to 'thank' each other for being there. An ear to bend when needed, a shoulder to cry on when the chips are down and just to know we are not on this journey alone.
We fix each others crooked crowns and push each other back out the door to keep going, as we are so all on this rollercoaster of life together. I personally want to thank you all, from the bottom of my cold Yorkshire/Scottish heart! I'm also eternally grateful for the community that stands behind us. In a word, we are all so 'happy' that YOU hang out with us daily!
Life is like a box of chocolates.....you never know what you are gonna get!
Our very own French Sophie, finds herself living in the USA and enjoying the traditions she wouldn't normally celebrate in France. I myself experienced my first Canadian Thanks Giving just last month. I guess that's the gift of travel isn't it? The opportunity to experience different cultural celebrations. French Sophie has one foot in France and one in the USA. The UnFrench British me, has a foot in the UK, a foot in France and a foot in Canada.
I of course don't have three feet, but it might help if I did!
Thats just how we roll at UnFrench virtual HQ. A little mixed and a little diverse. We learn from each other. Quite relaxed and all inclusive. We drink wine or not and we 'profanitise' or not. Is that even a word? Not a clue! We are all ages but don't really get excited about the finer details. We offer an honest friendship like no other, globally. What started out as just being for those choosing a life in France, has developed magically into so much more. We have those dreaming of France, travellers like Sophie and I, those settled in France from every corner of the world, making for a very interesting online adventure for all!
Before I go off on a long old ramble down memory lane, I'd really like to give thanks to the UnFrench team! In the last few months they have wrapped their arms around the community we are building together, supported each other with kind words, strength and lots and lots of laughter.
We work together in a virtual online chat box! Highly unusual and properly modern! The way we work together in the world is really changing isnt it! Sophie and I are on differing time lines to the rest of the team and to each other, yet we make it work with patience and respect. The days when I thought I would have to close TVUFWS are over, as I now know we have a totally invested talented team, making sure it survives and thrives.
I thank you all.
Then there's Clare. We've passed the UnFrench baton back and forth between us, somehow making it work. We have each put our hearts and souls into it and whilst we've had rare moments of disagreement, ultimately we've supported each other as work colleagues and friends all the way to this point in time. In March 2020 UnFrench will be 3!
I intend to meet up with all the Unfrench admin next year! Nothing like looking folks in the eyes, eh!
3 years......time really does fly when having fun eh!
I first met UnFrench Clare, in the flesh, almost three Thanks Givings ago. It's a great story which I still love to re tell and one day will end up in the UnFrench Wives novel, I'm sure. It involves new friends, a fox, a bull and way too much champagne!
I know, I know!
There is really no such thing as too much champagne!
Clare had decided to host a Thanks Giving supper 2017, for a local, very young, American friend, far from home. A fantastic idea and as I had been busy stuck in the house recovering, for what seemed like forever, the invite was just the ticket to getting back to normal!
So, Bertie and I took the 2.5 hour drive to meet our new friends over turkey that was chicken and trimmings. The first thing I remember was the landscape changing dramatically, as I headed towards Chinon! Everything seems lighter, brighter and more colourful than the Normandy countryside, I had left behind.
The next memory was getting very lost!
After a half hour detour, I turned down a country lane to find my way blocked by a huge but pretty relaxed bull. He was otherwise occupied having a good old munch on the lush glutei November grass! The beauty of a milder winter climate eh!
His friends were dutifully behind the fence thank goodness, where I'm sure he should have also been! He stared at me and I stared at him, he gave me a grunt and I gave him a friendly smile, knowing the old SAAB wouldn't hold up well if he charged. Thankfully he wasn't much interested in me and he went back to filling his face! I drove on.
Back en route and finally heading in the right direction, I indicated to turn into a wide street but had to suddenly jam the brakes on to let a pretty big, wide eyed red fox cross my path. His eyes were like dewy teacups, very gentle and kind. He also was in no hurry to move out of the way and really took his time to connect with me, looking me straight in the eyes. No fear, just pure curiosity. Then deciding I was of no further interest, off he went into the hedgerow. It was almost as if the animal kingdom was showing me the way to my new friends and whilst living in France, I continued to have these 'meet cutes' with the local wildlife, which I've enjoyed immensely. Birds of prey, Sanglier, deer.....you name it! France is a wild life haven and a half!
I arrived baring fizzy magnums to a great welcome. Martin constantly chattering about nothing in-particular! FiFi, their smallest dog, jumped straight on my lap. making my thighs her warm cushion for the day. Clare is what you see and feel is what you get, a very friendly, warm, kind woman. Her home is your home and soon I was teaching one of the guests to make sweet pastry for the pumpkin pie.
We made cranberry and orange salsa together. I had brought with me the fresh cranberries and a jar of my cranberry apple sauce. We drank, a lot, chatted, cried and enjoyed the most enormous banquet cooked by Martin. It was totally over in the blink of an eye really! All went way too fast and soon it was time to wave goodbye to new friends, but taking with me a bag of great new memories!
I will not ever forget Clare and Martins lovely dog family. Big and small! I expected chaos but got calm! Max, big ole bear Max was rather new and unsure, bless him. I need to tell him that Bertie is nearly 23 kgs now and I think loves food a little too much, just like Max!
Last year, Clare made it to Yorkshire to visit with us, so it's quite sad that this year we don't get to hang out together. Never mind eh, there are many years ahead of us! Sadly, my birth sister passed whilst Clare was visiting, so it wasn't an easy time but we still managed to eat, walk and chat late into the evenings. Again all over far too fast!
So here's to you all, the team, my family, new and old friends, Clare, Martin and my gone way too young, Mandy.
Happy Thanksgiving wherever you hail from and wherever you are in the world, from my UnFrench table to yours.
Next up is Clare!
Clare here, well I had to chip in a bit.. we decided, well I decided lets be honest, that we should have an American Style Thanksgiving as our friend was away from home for the first year, and really really missing home cooked food plus her husband (of 2 months) was working away too. So, Martin and I asked her to tell us what she normally ate at TG. I mean we are both British and never had a TG dinner before.
So, she said, turkey, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, pumpkin pie and some non fizzy non alcoholic cider. We invited Donna, as it seemed to be turning into a party and thought it would be fun. I was right.
We couldn't get turkey anywhere. So we bought 2 chickens to roast. Martin decided it was really a BIG Sunday dinner and got a bit carried away with roast potatoes, sweet potatoes baked in the oven, and lots of veggies. Our friend had carefully made the pumpkin pie filling mix but didn't know how to make a sweet pastry case. Enter stage right Donna and Bertie!
My lasting memory of the day was Donna showing our American friend how to make and roll out the pastry and cook it so it's not soggy! I sat down, poured more champagne, and then sat the table in the front living room whilst everything was cooking to perfection.
Now Bertie is a really good natured dog and was soon playing with my 5 dogs happily. The sun was shining and they played outside running around and all was well. Then Max, our biggest blackest dog, who had been with us about a week at this point, decided he didn't want an incomer dog in the kitchen. Poor Bertie had 30kg of Max land on him as he tried to persuade Bertie away from the delicious smelling kitchen! Totally embarrassed Mum of dogs here! No harm done fortunately but we looked at Max with new eyes.
After dinner I was clearing away, and yes wine had been taken and stories told around the table and Thanks given individually, I was washing up some glasses in the kitchen sink. The floor seemed a bit slippery, I said to Martin have you spilled something on the floor? No he replied as I noticed Romeo our dog with a piece of foil under the table, licking it intensely.
What had happened whilst we had been eating pumpkin pie, was newcomer Max had helped himself to an entire chicken carcass from the work surface, and the only remaining evidence was Romeo licking the foil! OMG chicken bones!!??? Don't they kill dogs? Do we need the Vet? We decided the next hour would be crucial and I watched him constantly. He was absolutely fine and I think in his previous life in Romania, he probably ate bones and whatever he could find to keep himself fed. So Max, aged 9, was thereafter Christened Max ee mooo the chicken hound!
I think he knows its almost Thanksgiving time again. He is sitting behind me as I type and he knows he is one lucky big black old dog, given a new least of life in rural France. If he could talk he would give thanks for his new home and family.
So from Clare and Martin (Mr Quite French) and the furry family, please take a moment this week to give your thanks to those who mean everything to you.