We’re getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving in a very small way, then in a very big way, then a third time in a medium way. That’s Thanksgiving when you’re an expatriate; you get to do it when, where, how, and as many times as you want!
As I plan for the upcoming meals, shared with people from different lands, each of who comes to partake in a fete that isn’t their own, but which they’ve all adopted, I look around. Aside from those invited to Thanksgiving dinners like my own, the French don’t have an immediate holiday to lift their spirits. So they’re resorting to other ways of doing it:
They’re decorating for Christmas as never before.
They’re getting people to dance on the metro.
They’re playing the piano that a Mr. David Martello left in front of the Bataclan last Saturday, after he drove it there from 400 kilometers away, set it up, then sat down and played John Lennon’s Imagine.
They are saying, with resounding force, “How do we include instead of exclude?
They’re singing the Marseillaise and flying the Tricolore with abandon. It’s because of that thing we do. We poke fun at what we have. But let someone else look sideways – let alone mow down innocents – we rise and gather what we love close.
They are reacting with elegant resistance to unthinkable violence.
I have been a French citizen for five years. I became French for pragmatic reasons – so that I could vote, so that I could help my son become French, and so that I could get in the short line at customs. I have been overcome with pride at being a citizen of this country, a place I have lived in and loved for nearly 30 years. I’m sorry it took a horror to make me realize that I am French, and that I am a patriot.
Thursday, I will celebrate with being an American patriot by celebrating the first of my Thanksgivings. On Friday I will be French and do as our president has asked. I will fly the Tricolore at my window, with pride.