Thanksgiving

fondation Louis Vuitton, ThanksgivingToday is Thanksgiving, a celebration that my family fully embraced while living in the US and exported to Europe.

My first Thanksgiving was celebrated 15 years ago in New York with my mom’s cousin. I don’t recall the turkey, the food or anything really. I have a small recollection of the decoration of the apartment. But I remember one thing: we watched so many Indiana Jones movies that I eventually fell asleep in front of the TV.


candy, sweets, ThanksgivingIn the following two years we celebrated Thanksgiving at home, once with some other Germans living in the area. Again, I don’t recall these moments at all. I remember learning everything about the tradition, where it comes from. It was not of my heritage being an expat child bound to return to by country of origin, but we adopted it quickly, I guess that’s what you call “integration”.

Eleven years ago my dad had the idea to invite his siblings with their spouses and small children to join us for the four days of Thanksgiving, give them a reason to come and enjoy Paris. We lived in the suburbs at the time, so it took a while to make our way into the heart of the city for adventures. Photos from the past show that I was a still a kid back then (I was 16), that my cousin who just turned 12 was just starting to stand up by himself, and that the turkey was about the size of a big chicken.

Making chocolate mousse, ThanksgivingI left for university, but always came back for Thanksgiving. Even professors in England understood my need to miss 2 days of class.

My parents moved into Paris for my second Thanksgiving no longer living at home. It was also the first Thanksgiving of my youngest cousin, who was about 5 days old. Thanksgiving by then had grown in importance for my aunt and her family, even a giving birth to her 3rd child would not keep them from coming. Her kids said, well if she isn’t here by “Thanksgiving you’ll just have her in Paris”, well it did not come to that.

A year later I brought S. with me for the first time, we had been together for 2 months. Now tomorrow when we’ll have our Thanksgiving dinner we’ll be there together for 6 years and with a toddler. The party will be made up of 19 people. There are my parents, my sister, my 5 cousins from my dad’s side of the family (aged between 7 and 14), my aunt with her husband and uncle with his wife, my grandfather, my best friend with her boyfriend, a good friend of the family, S., little one and I. My dad has been cooking all week to make it just as special as every year.

I do think that in my family we love Thanksgiving. It is a great way to see one another without it impacting on Christmas. After all Christmas is a holiday where everyone seems to have family obligations as well as ideas of how it should be. Thanksgiving being an imported holiday for us is a great way of having a family reunion for which we can create our own traditions. Visiting Paris is one of them.

fondation Louis Vuitton, Thanksgiving

All of these photos are from last year, if you are wondering about the size of our Turkey, which I think weighed 10kg and barely fit into my parents oven (which is a huge oven) then you can see that here. I think that my vegetarian and vegan readers will prefer it not being inside of the post… If you are wondering, the photos of rose and the building were taken at the Foundation Louis Vuitton (definitely worth a visit!) and the other two pictures are of sweets and of chocolate mousse in the making.

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Did you always celebrate it, or is it a tradition you adopted like I did? What is your fondest Thanksgiving memory?

Have a great Thanksgiving!


© Solveig Werner 2015. All rights reserved.

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20 thoughts on “Thanksgiving

  1. No Thanksgiving for us even if we lived in the USA and celebrated it there. But my parents (andtheir children in tow) lived in so many countries that they did not adopt all ceremonies, celebrations, etc. Otherwise we would have been celebrating all the time!
    And we had our own family rituals as well.
    We were more on the Harvest Festival side but part of Mother’s family was British and the Church celebration went well with the time of thanks for what we got/get.
    I wish my Canadian friends a Happy Thanksgiving on their festive day and another Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends on THEIR particular day ( and receive greetings in exchange).
    Nevertheless, I must have been subliminally influenced as I bought some turkey breast slices to cook today when “The Girls” and I went shopping yesterday…
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My family completely embraced thanksgiving, I guess we all have the traditions we adopt and those we don’t. There is nothing wrong with celebrating all the time Camille!
      Even though it is the weekend now, we are still completely in Thanksgiving mode.

      In Germany there is a harvest festival too, but it is even neglected by Germans…

      I hope the Turkey was good 🙂

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      1. The slices of turkey breast have been re-secheduled for today lunch. I am 22 and caregiver of my younger sister (20) and a ousin (56) both suffering from DownS. Mother dead two years ago. And my life dedicated to “my Girls”, in the country: this gave its name to my blog (Sketches and Vignettes from la Dordogne). Brothers in Paris or abroad (older than I am) and Father busy with running throughout the world. Therefore life is sometimes difficult and with changes according to the Girls’ lives and moods. Turkey should be lunch today…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wow you are definitely young. I am sorry for the loss of your mother. I have to have a more closer look at your blog (more than one…), as I only found it recently.
          I hope that the Christmas period is going to be alright for you without too many difficulties.

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  2. Wow. I think it’s fantastic that your family chose to adopt a holiday that wasn’t originally from their culture, but the best part is that your family embraced it for what it’s meant to be: a time to be thankful for all the people that are in our lives. I fear that notion may be lost in American Thanksgiving nowadays what with Black Friday now starting on Thursday, instead of the day after. It’s a shame. I don’t understand why people have to go out and buy more things on a day when we’re supposed to be thankful for what we have.

    Thankfully, that was not my family. My family always managed to calm their tempers and bite their tongues(which was difficult for my parents) so that we might have food enough to fill our large dining room table and sit around and simply enjoy the day. There’s always the parade to watch while the turkey is cooking. My mother would be busy in the kitchen, my dad helping if she had anything for him, while my brother and I sat and watched the parade on the TV. Of course, there is the most important tradition: the football game afterwards. :p

    I can’t say I always watched either the parade or the football game, but that wasn’t what was important. The important part for me was that it was one day where there could be peace in our household(a rarity). Somehow my parents managed to stop their squabbling for a day even as they shared a kitchen. Perhaps that’s why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. (And also because my birthday likes to fall on it every few years. Hee hee. ^.^)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Melanie for sharing your own Thanksgiving memories and traditions (it’s almost a post your comment…, I guess you really LOVE thanksgiving).

      I am glad that they managed to be at peace for that holiday. Family celebrations are always at risk of not being as nice as we would hope, seen that everyone is a bit tense and has a “protocol” to follow.

      We had a very nice dinner last night. Even though being so many people, you don’t really get to talk to anyone correctly. All the teens and preteens watched one movie after the next while my dad was cooking and others were out to have a glimpse at the arc de triomphe in Christmas lights.

      Have a great weekend! I guess you are spending it with your family?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! Sorry, my words get carried away sometimes. :p
        Wow! Seeing the Arc de Triomphe at Christmas time sounds so cool! 😄
        I worked this Thanksgiving, but that’s okay. This weekend is tree trimming weekend. It’ll be lots of fun with my brother, his wife, and I. ^.^ When do you prepare a tree?

        P.s. I will get you my advent post today. I do not have a preference for what day it goes up. ^.^

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        1. It is just around the corner, about 10 minutes on foot, so I’ll have to go and take pictures one evening of it and the Champs Elysées too so that I can include them in an advent post.
          Gosh I am definitely behind with replying to comments at the moment (that’s all those emails with the advent calendar contributions, and being exhausted from a month of blogging and Thanksgiving)
          The tree, it goes up on the 23rd in the evening, but I have never actually prepared it. Kids were never allowed and as I like the magic of Christmas and the surprise of discovering the tree on the 24th at night, I probably won’t decorate it this year either (my mom and grandfather will do that). I’ll be telling more on my Christmas celebrating traditions on the 24th 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oo! Yes. Please take pictures if you have time. That would be amazing! ^.^ Speaking of pictures, perhaps I’ll have to take pictures of house lights that people set up for one of my days of Christmas. Decorating the outside of the house can be VERY popular here. :p

            Haha! Don’t worry. Everyone is busy and you can take all the time you need to respond to my messages. ^.^

            Wait. You don’t put the tree up until the 23rd? That’s so late! How do you get to enjoy it over the season of Advent? Is that how everyone in Europe celebrates? *sigh* I can wait until the 24th if you want to keep it for your blog…

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Well it’s for the days of Christmas and is taken down on the 6th of January. Seen that we use real candles the tree needs to be fresh.
              No not everyone in Europe but in Germany (where the Christmas tree comes from along, ok it’s from Scandinavia too but they do it he same way I think) it traditionally goes up on the 24th and stays until kings day.
              Advent you have the crown made of pine that prepares you for the tree. 🙂

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  3. Solveig what an impressive post! I was wondering why you celebrated Thanksgiving since you live in Europe. Your family picked up the wonderful and most important part of the Thanksgiving tradition… FAMILY and being Thankful for what you have. Many of us here in the U.S. do value Thanksgiving as you do.

    For years I had my brother, parents, in-laws, aunts and uncles, and cousins at my house. Everyone brought a dish and I cooked the basics… turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and vegetable. Others brought yams, rolls, pies, cranberries. We would have a fun day of talking and a very delicious dinner. I do miss those days as now my brother, parents, in-laws and aunts and uncles are dead. My cousins have their own families. Additionally, my children are grown and live in different parts of the state so now my dinner is for simply my husband and I. I would invite friends or neighbors over, but my husband is not social. So I am THANKFUL for my friends and family wherever they live in the world. Christmas will be the time my husband and I get together with our children and grandchildren. So I do have lots to be thankful for.

    As for Melanie’s comment about Black Friday … I TOTALLY agree. I’m so upset that the music stations start playing Christmas music BEFORE Thanksgiving. Corporations are more interested in our spending money. I just want to appreciate the little things that I have in life. New THINGS are not important to me, but my friends and family are… so with this thought.

    I WISH YOU ALL A VERY BOUNTIFUL AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! Enjoy your friends and family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Gwynn for your beautiful comment, I have the feeling it came from the heart!
      The Christmas time really does last long enough, from the first advent Sunday end of November till the 6th of January… there is no need to go into christmassy music before Thanksgiving.
      Well here the decorations have been up since the 1st of November too. It shows that Christmas has been exploited for commercial uses, where is the spirituality in all that?
      When I lived in Lille (the North of France) they did not even take the Christmas decorations down during the whole year, they were just not turned on…

      And yes, Thanksgiving is definitely about family for me. The food is important, but I think it is secondary (don’t tell my dad…)

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  4. I’ve always believed in taking the practices that work for you and leaving the rest that don’t. How wonderful that your family has exported a US tradition and made it your own 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it is a good way to go about it. I guess sometimes people are grateful to trade in their old practices for something new too. That’s how every family has their own traditions.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Gulara! It definitely is. I think embracing it is made easy as all immigrants are meant to do so, and there is no religious background to the tradition (ok there are the Christian Thanksgivings but they are far earlier in autumn).

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Tell me about it! I am lucky to have my parents 300m away, but not many people are… My family came from Switzerland, and various towns in Germany to celebrate.

      Liked by 1 person

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