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Je Vous Remercie Pour De Ce Délicieux Repas

It had grown to be a regular event to state what we were thankful for at each Thanksgiving dinner. Traditions are important and I didn’t want to change this one because the answers are usually centered around the joys of that specific day – food and family. Everyone takes pleasure in hearing little ones give answers that reiterate the values of the family.

But what makes us thankful on a random Thursday? Chloe was still getting used to our day of Thanksgiving. She probably had a lot of thankful days after the war when she was able to come to the states. Chloe told me that she wanted to see if she could cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal, so we made plans to have a pre-holiday dinner party for both our families. Chloe and I gathered lots of ladies magazines and Chloe searched for traditional recipes that sounded good to her and she looked through my recipe box. I had a few old cards from my mother and Mother Jones in with mine as well as enough cookbooks with fall favorites to make it easy to choose what to make. Chloe understood the turkey was central but a French turkey is usually a wild bird and a little scrawny. It didn’t need to be big according to Chloe because she didn’t want a lot of leftovers.

I had to stop when I heard Chloe speak like that. No leftovers? Chloe didn’t like to have leftovers unless they could be added to make a brand new meal, like an omelet. Oh mon dieu. So unAmerican. But this was Chloe’s Thanksgiving, so I shut my mouth as we forged on through the menu. Chloe insisted on an appetizer. I suggested a relish tray to nibble on with drinks. Chloe insisted on a cheese course. I suggested macaroni and cheese. Chloe insisted on some fresh fruit to clear the palate. I suggested a Jello mold with mandarin oranges or cranberry sauce. Chloe insisted on a root vegetable. I immediately suggested mashed potatoes with gravy. It was clear that my ideas didn’t translate into French well. I sat quietly and told Chloe that I would help her with any choices she made.

When our pre-Thanksgiving day arrived, Chloe and I worked feverishly all day in her kitchen. Steve and Francis played with the children as they raked leaves. Chloe’s table sparkled with crystal and china. I was hoping my children wouldn’t even dare to take a drink during dinner in case they dropped one of those beautiful pieces. Chloe let me borrow one of her aprons and the steam and heat of the kitchen flushed our faces. I was following the recipes chosen by Chloe and we would stop from time to time to check on our progress and check off items completed. Mid-afternoon, Chloe announced a break. Chloe took a bottle of wine from the icebox and poured two glasses. We took our glasses out the back door and sat on the back stoop to smoke. Chloe gently wiped her brow and clinked glasses with mine. She called me a true friend, vrai ami. After we got our second wind, we only had last minute preparations to complete. We gave the men and children a 30 minute warning for dinner and started to fill the table. There was a beautiful mix of French classics and American standards. Just before we went into the dining room to eat, Chloe went to light the candles. Inadvertently, I opened a small drawer looking for my lipstick. I felt a little silly but in all the heat and work, I forgot what kitchen I was in and followed my usual habit. I laughed when I saw that the drawer held the same things I stashed at my house. There were two tubes of lipstick, a comb and a small mirror at the ready. I guess no matter where we come from, we girls need to look our best. I realized I knew what I was going to be thankful for this year.

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