It’s been a good week. To keep my dear mum from being *too* sad about me not being there with them for Thanksgiving, I hosted an American Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. We didn’t really have much in the way of traditional Thanksgiving food; I roasted chickens instead of turkey, and there were no mashed potatoes, or sweet potatoes, or stuffing. But it was a great night, with delicious smells, laughter, and loud voices filling la maison grise once again. It had been a while since I had a houseful.
There was a balance of french and english speakers. There was even some German thrown in. I was the grown up responsible for hostessing and roasting the birds. Even if one friend who’d never been to my home before did have to welcome me, as I “arrived” after him (lost meat thermometer emergency, even though three of us KNEW we’d used my meat thermometer a month or two previously…how the hell do you lose a meat thermometer?!?!?). I was the only American in attendance. It was nothing like my previous Thanksgivings, but it still was perfect in its own way. After all, it’s not the mashed potatoes, but the helping hands in the kitchen, not the stuffing, but the warmth of friends gathered together that makes for a wonderful evening.
I had a second American Thanksgiving on Sunday. Another round of good food and good company, this one with other Americans living in the Great White North. It was fun to giggle over being able to say “miles” and “gallons” again, instead of “kilometres” and “litres.”
I’ve been entertaining a bit more again, having a friend over to dinner or just to hang out for a while. It’s nice, and I feel like I’m getting back to me. It’s nice to respond to my husband’s messages with enthusiasm again, and not bring him down with my moping. It’s nice to have so many grins and giggles again for him when we skype. To have some stories to tell about new friends, what’s going on with my old friends, and what silly thing happened in french class yesterday.
I’ve had a few more of those day-brightening experiences that give me a lingering smile, too. I was gathering the last few items for chicken roasting at a nearby grocery store on Thanksgiving morning. I heard, “Mademoiselle,” called softly from behind me several times in the produce section, and I finally glanced behind me. An older lady was clearly speaking to me, though I didn’t have the slightest clue why she happened to pick me out of the crowd. (I am a redhead, unusual in the region, and rather an Amazon compared to the women around here, but still, I didn’t know this lady or interact with her in any way previously.) But she approached me and began talking to me. I played my usual card, “Slowly, please speak very slowly. I am American. I’m learning french, but I understand only a little now.” (En français, bien sûr!) She slowed way down (something it seems it’s hard for many people around here to do – Quebecois french doesn’t lend itself to slow speech or separated words). I didn’t understand everything she said, but I was able to get the gist of most of it, and I talked to her about being here because of my military husband, and how he’s gone, and I was missing him on American Thanksgiving. It was strange to be hunted down in produce to talk to a stranger, but it left me with a smile on my face.
I also made a new friend last night, for the first time, a Quebecer who speaks less english than I speak french. It was a challenge for both of us to communicate, but she was very friendly and worked hard to speak slowly, and to understand my french through my terrible Okie accent. It was a fun challenge to put my words together to talk to her in french, and to realize that, as slow as it is, I’m making some progress. Just a few short months ago, I would have been embarrassed and intimidated to try to bridge the language barrier from my end, with my broken french, but now, it’s just one more step forward in this strange life.
Most of all, the days are finally marching forward again. The light at the end of the tunnel is brightening by the day. I so greatly appreciate the friends here who have helped me out, and made me laugh, and kept me company, and helped me grow this tiny little new life. Without them, I couldn’t have made it through. But despite the fun I have had here in the past three and a half months, I’m ready to get my best friend back, to find those black socks on the floor, to make BLTs and caper chicken and dirty pork, to look at him until I get the squees, to laugh with each other, and to ignore each other when we wander off into the interwebs separately on lazy days.
Yes, it’s been a very good week. One more of these, and I’m heading south and west!