Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Most Entertaining Thanksgiving Ever

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photo by Kaley

Seriously, I have never quite laughed this way before. Having three French children in addition to my own was a most enjoyable mixture. The five young people my husband and I shared our Thanksgiving with are actually very much alike in so many ways. Socioeconomic level and place in society are commensurate. All of them have an interest in languages with English and French being the two most important with Spanish, German and Italian on the list.

They are all unceasingly curious about the world and variations in culture. They all read book after book in either French or English. They have a passion for politics. And they like to watch ridiculous movies---in French or English. I include my daughter with them. Her French, thanks to our travels, Kamiak High School, and Whitman College is right up there so that she was able to hang in there with the conversations.

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Five children of the world---my two are in the middle.

All of this started in the 7th grade for me. I took French instead of Spanish in Junior High because physically, I am unable to roll "r's" due to my tongue having an extra anchor underneath. A dentist once suggested snipping it but I declined because it actually was an advantage for pronouncing the French "r". I loved French and took it every year thereafter through college. It was my minor. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to spend time in France after college to become fluent. It was because of my urging that my husband did a sabbatical in France 11 years ago. This was a result of my lifelong dream to visit and live there.

The sabbatical in France all of those years ago was a significant influence on my children both in terms of language development and cultural interest. And it all came together this Thanksgiving. The five children would laugh and talk about a particular subject in English and then in a split second they would switch to French seamlessly. Truly, this was a dream come true for me to witness.

Dinner conversation hilariously centered around idioms. When we say, "it's Greek to me", they say "it's Chinese". When we say, "he's not a rocket scientist" or "not the sharpest knife in the drawer", they say "he's not the guy who invented the machine to bend bananas." We learned they have no term for when the car "fish tails" on a snowy road. We had to explain "kick the bucket". When Lucas explained the meaning of "cut the cheese", Christophe had a sudden look of embarrassment on his face. "So that is why they laughed at me at Ryan's party! I couldn't understand why offering to "slice" the cheese was so laughable".

And of course, cooking and serving an American Thanksgiving dinner to three wonderful and smart students who had never before had the experience was pure joy. They had never eaten anything cranberry. Rarely had they eaten turkey, pumpkin pie or sweet potatoes. Never had they watched it all be prepared. The French kids admitted that their impression is that Americans eat nasty food most of the time. But they liked Thanksgiving. I could tell by how much they ate.

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photo by Kaley

As for me, I loved Thanksgiving, too.

UPDATE: We had snow! It started yesterday. Snoqualmie Pass was a mess which impacted us. Lucas and his three friends left yesterday morning at 8:30 AM. Normal drive time from Seattle to Missoula is 7 hours. Lucas was in his little old 4WD Jeep. We had to get the brakes fixed on Friday after Thanksgiving because they were locking up on him in the snow on the way over. With great trepidation, I said good bye to four terrific young people in the morning.

As the snow flakes began at noon, we drove Kaley to the Whitman bus in South Seattle. I know this sounds kushy and it is but this small expensive liberal arts private school provides private buses to transport students from Whitman to both Seattle and Portland and back again for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Her bus had a late start. Normal drive time for her trip is 4 or 5 hours. I felt less angst putting her on the bus than sending Lucas off in an old Jeep until she told me that last year the Whitman bus crashed.

Snoqualmie Pass was closed on and off as one or two feet of snow dumped. Lucas had several more passes with heavy snow most of the way except mid-state. He called several times to report as did Kaley. I could not relax until I heard that they were both safe and sound. Lucas's trip took 14 hours and Kaley's took 8----both were double. We didn't get the final arrival call from each of them until after 10 PM last night.

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My biggest fear--
(taken near Bellingham yesterday by Betty Engels for King5)

So I didn't enjoy the snowfall last night. This morning schools were closed but of course, this no longer affects me. Also, because we live on the water where there is never as much snow, I had a hard time telling how much our area received. I hopped in the car to do errands and drove to the top of the hill and wow----several inches covered everything and weighed heavily on the trees.

It was beautiful.