At first glance, this year’s Thanksgiving was a tiny bit weird for me. Unlike other American festivities that have found their way to Europe (Halloween, Katy Perry dance parties, etc.), Thanksgiving has remained in its country of origin. Nobody quite understands the tradition or knows how to make a paper turkey by tracing their hand. Add that to France’s lack of cranberries and you are going to find that Thanksgiving celebrated in France turns out to be kind of funky.

I had two “Thanksgiving” meals this year – lunch and dinner on the 22nd. For lunch, I had a couple of my EAP pals come over to have lunch with my visiting parents (whom I am very thankful for, without which this Thanksgiving would have been unrecognizable). We had a lovely meal where we all said our thanks and ate roast chicken, unmashed potatoes, salad, and a dessert of chocolate cake, which tasted nothing like the pumpkin pie that I’m used to but was still really delicious. It was fab to have my parents with me just like every other Thanksgiving, and adding in some new friends was an absolute treat.

The same friends and I also went to an EAP dinner that evening at a restaurant in Lyon. Every year, our program director organizes a little soiree where us California kids can get together with each other and (attempt to) have a Thanksgiving meal. Even though we were stuffed from lunch, my friends and I were super excited to taste a French restaurant’s interpretation of our beloved American holiday. And let me say I was very thankful that I had eaten so much the meal before, because a French Thanksgiving is much less gluttonous than an American one. We ate a light dinner of soup, a few bits of (very expensive and apparently imported? turkey), three different kinds of mashed vegetables (none of which were yams), and apple tart for dessert. It was tasty, but all of our stomach’s were yearning for green bean casserole and stuffing.

Still, despite a confusing meal, we all agreed that we had a great Thanksgiving because we were spending it in France, having a good time,  and hanging out with a bunch of friendly UCers. I won’t say that I want to spend all of my Thanksgivings the same way, but having the holiday in France showed me what it is really about – being surrounded by good people and being grateful for that. Sure, I missed out on cranberry sauce, but I will be having lots of the yummy American Thanksgiving food in years to come, and when I do I will be ever so thankful.

Charley Guptill