Paris/COVID: Thanks(giving) anyway?

My favorite co-working café a while back, will it survive?

A reminder I’m not my usual self: Christmas lights going up on our street courtesy of local merchants’ association, after all they’ve been through, made me cry, with gratitude.

Resetting holiday attitudes and expectations… I’m usually a grinch about the Beaujolais Nouveau event, third Thursday of November. It always seemed a fake marketing ploy dreamed up by the vintners’ lobby in 1985 to rake in cash with too-young, too-acidic beverages calling themselves wine. However…this year, I was treated to a memorable bottle with a weird name: Beaujo Beau from Domaine Anthony Charvet, AOC Chiroubles. https://www.vins-anthony-charvet.fr/vins-et-tarifs

Recommended by our favorite local restaurant owner Bertrand Disset:

https://www.instagram.com/labicyclettebistroparis/

Do check out La Bicyclette, his bistrot: real chef (Slavica Marmakovic), fresh ingredients, gorgeous creativity, charcuterie from l’Aveyron, natural wines, low prices, great press, offering take out during confinement, our family’s hooked.

Tasting this wine sparked my curiosity and I learned that Beaujolais Nouveau wasn’t invented in 1985, but is one of the surviving French wine festivals all over France, vestiges of traditional fêtes des vendanges, grape harvest festivals that used to be a thing. When I was a student here, all the French kids used to take off in the Fall to work in the vineyards and enjoy camaraderie and banquets prepared by the vintners’ families.

Live and learn! Vive le Beaujolais Nouveau! We need all the holidays we can get these days. This one is connected to a real terroir.

The other event I’ve always hated is Black Friday. How could anyone sully our miraculously non-commercial Thanksgiving with such a display of crass greed the next day? OK, I know Thanksgiving is an idealized version of Early American cooperation between indigenous people and colonists. When my kids were little I researched it so I could present it to them in good conscience. It seems that there was a historically-documented meal where “pilgrims” and native people celebrated abundant local produce and European survival in the New World (what happened next is less a reason to celebrate). Question: could our US Thanksgiving mythology be a template for future inclusivity and stewardship?

Meanwhile French businesses adopted Black Friday to my chagrin. But COVID has changed the context and when I see how small businesses are struggling, I have to welcome Black Friday for their sake. Reset.

And there are other things to celebrate this year.

No matter how you voted, a respite if not an end to election hangover.

If you’re reading this, congratulations for being alive.

If you’re a parent of teens in France: remote working means more adults are at home paying attention to the comings and goings of their teenagers, who have to communicate more about their outings: where, when, why, how long… to fill out the required dérogation. It’s become much easier to form alliances and keep them safe.

This helps us to find a balance between restrictions and permissiveness, keeping in mind current mental health challenges for young people: increased rates of depression, suicide and anorexia:

https://pro.orange.fr/actualites/covid-19-la-sante-mentale-d-adolescents-se-degrade-selon-une-pedopsychiatre-CNT000001v45pY.html

And… Thanksgiving is starting to appeal to a French audience! Monoprix features a special shopping section on their website:

https://courses.monoprix.fr/content/thanksgiving

….with a recipe for Pecan Pie that lists maple syrup instead of corn syrup (Gasp! my South Georgia ancestors are rolling in their graves!)

But upon closer investigation… maple syrup has 200 fewer calories per cup than corn syrup and contains actual nutrients contrary to its ultra-refined alternative! So perhaps a new era will dawn in that area as well?

Welcome news! Last night President Macron announced lighter confinement rules for the holidays, starting on Saturday November 28th when non-essential stores are allowed to reopen.

A final word: over the years I’ve figured out that I’m a pilgrim in France, grateful for all the support I’ve received from “the natives.” We expats watch Emily in Paris on Netflix and laugh at the cultural caricatures we recognize from our attempts to adapt to our French hosts, but in truth we all love France, we’re grateful to here.

Happy Thanksgiving from a pilgrim,

Aliss

Happy Thanksgiving from Paris

A favorite shot of Pavillon des Canaux, Paris 19…dsc03044

There is much to be thankful for:

“Gratitude to Mother Earth, sailing through night and day–
and to her soil: rich, rare and sweet
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to Plants, the sun-facing light-changing leaf
and fine root hairs: standing still through wind 
and rain; their dance is in the flowing spiral grain
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to Air, bearing the soaring Swift and the silent
Owl at dawn. Breath of our song
clear spirit breeze
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to Wild Beings, our brothers, teaching secrets,
freedoms and ways; who share with us their milk;
self- complete, brave, and aware
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to Water: clouds, lakes, rivers, glaciers;
holding or releasing; streaming through all
all bodies salty seas
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to the Sun: blinding pulsing light through 
trunks of trees, through mists, warming caves where
bears and snakes sleep–he who wakes us–
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to the Great Sky
who holds billions of stars–and goes yet beyond that–
beyond all powers, and thoughts
and yet is within us–
Grandfather Space
The Mind is his Wife.
 
so be it.”
 
(after a Mohawk prayer)
– by Gary Snyder

Happy Thanksgiving from Paris

Pavillon des Canaux, Paris 19…dsc03044

There is much to be thankful for:

Gratitude to Mother Earth, sailing through night and day–
and to her soil: rich, rare and sweet
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to Plants, the sun-facing light-changing leaf
and fine root hairs: standing still through wind 
and rain; their dance is in the flowing spiral grain
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to Air, bearing the soaring Swift and the silent
Owl at dawn. Breath of our song
clear spirit breeze
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to Wild Beings, our brothers, teaching secrets,
freedoms and ways; who share with us their milk;
self- complete, brave, and aware
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to Water: clouds, lakes, rivers, glaciers;
holding or releasing; streaming through all
all bodies salty seas
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to the Sun: blinding pulsing light through 
trunks of trees, through mists, warming caves where
bears and snakes sleep–he who wakes us–
in our minds so be it.
 
Gratitude to the Great Sky
who holds billions of stars–and goes yet beyond that–
beyond all powers, and thoughts
and yet is within us–
Grandfather Space
The Mind is his Wife.
 
so be it.
 
(after a Mohawk prayer)
– by Gary Snyder