Thursday, November 29, 2007


Le Petit got his first tooth last week. I noticed it on Thanksgiving. It was an otherwise unremarkable Thursday for us here in Paris, but I was looking for a reason for it to be special, and there it was, the tiny white end of a tooth poking out of le Petit’s bottom gum. No wonder he’s been drooling so much lately, and chomping on everything that he can grab. At not yet four and a half months, I can’t help but be proud of his precociousness.

First tooth, first Thanksgiving. I say it was an ordinary day for us, and I suppose it was, for we didn’t do anything particularly festive. I had an acorn squash hanging around which we roasted for dinner along with onions, potatoes, and a couple of chicken legs; it wasn’t turkey, but it was as close as I could find on a quick trip to the neighborhood supermarket. Yet it felt like a special day for me anyway, and I was tuned into the home country all day as I thought of my friends and family getting up, watching the Macy’s parade on television, stuffing up the turkey and enjoying the anticipation all afternoon as the delicious smells from the oven filled the house.

In my family, we eat our Thanksgiving turkey with sauerkraut, a tradition started by my German grandmother. It sounds crazy, but it works surprisingly well. I explained this to le Petit as we went on our daily walk.

“Today is Thanksgiving,” I told him. “In America – and you are American, so you’d better learn this – this is a day we eat way too much food, but not just any food. Turkey, stuffing (bread stuffing, because any other kind is for losers), pumpkin pie (you’re going to love pumpkin pie, I promise you), and, in our family, sauerkraut.”

I went on to tell him that not only do Americans eat too much on Thanksgiving, but they give thanks for all of the things they’re grateful for. I then told him all the big things I am grateful for, starting with him and his dad. It took me the entire length of the island in the Seine, half of our favorite four kilometer walk, for me to get to the end of my list, and I only covered major items. Family. My mother-in-law’s constant help and support since le Petit’s birth. My dad’s visits to Paris this year. The time le Petit and I have had to spend together, just mother and son, before I go back to work in the spring. There was just so much to say, I didn’t know how to share all this joy I felt with him.

He was eventually lulled to sleep by my one-sided conversation sometime after I reached the end of the island and segued into an explanation of Christmas and Santa Claus. When he woke up back at home, I apologized that, alas, one tooth would not be enough to sample any turkey this year, or even any pumpkin pie. He just grinned at me his one-toothed, drooly smile, and didn’t seem at all disappointed.

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