Friday, November 13, 2009
A weekend challenge reminded me of growing up in Paris and having to explain celebrating Thanksgiving, a holiday unknown to the French at the time. Luckily we had Art Buchwald to turn to, and he didn't fail us.
Buchwald's classic 1953 column still runs in the Washington Post and International Herald Tribune, and helps explain le Jour de Merci Donnant.
Here it is in full:
One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant.
Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims (Pèlerins) who fled from l'Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their heart's content.
They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Américaine) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai) in 1620. But while the Pèlerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pèlerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux- Rouges helped the Pèlerins was when they taught them to grow corn (maïs). The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pèlerins.
In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pèlerins' crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more maïs was raised by the Pèlerins than Pèlerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.
Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration.
It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilomètres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant:
"Go to the damsel Priscilla (allez très vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth (la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action (un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning.
"I am a maker of war (je suis un fabricant de la guerre) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (vous, qui êtes pain comme un étudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden."
Although Jean was fit to be tied (convenable à être emballé), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow (rendue muette par l'étonnement et la tristesse).
At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: "If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?" (Où est-il, le vieux Kilomètres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas auprès de moi pour tenter sa chance?)
Jean said that Kilomètres Deboutish was very busy and didn't have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilomètres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, Jean?" (Chacun à son goût.)
And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes, and for the only time during the year eat better than the French do.
No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fête and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilomètres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.
I suppose you had to be there.....
Friday, November 13, 2009
It was difficult to walk in, but I returned to my dance session this evening. Truth be told, I've been distracted for six months, and while I think I'm still an excellent instructor, my focus wasn't there.
Well, I didn't really want to be there this evening either, but I knew it would do me good. I remained numb for about an hour, and then started to feel a little more lively. By the end of the evening, I was actually having fun. Love those endorphins!
I still think they should have dancing emoticons.....
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I didn't get to weigh in last week on Wednesday (regular day AND my birthday) so I waited until today to do it. Lo and behold, I saw that goal number - 110.
Now, I know as well as anybody that tomorrow it could be up a pound and a half, or down half a pound. So my first instinct was not to acknowledge it, but to stay where I was for the past two weeks. That seemed safer. I'm all about safe, believe me.
And then I decided to be brave and put it out there. Sure, I may have to struggle to get it to stick. I may be wringing my hands this time next week. But I need to acknowledge the victories and in the process give myself a little extra incentive to keep pushing. So there you have it, I met my goal of 110 by my 60th birthday. Give or take...
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
It's different for everyone, of course. And SparkPeople gives you any number of tools to help you along the way, from trackers to maps, to recipes and even suggestions for maintaining a healthy pantry.
I read it all voraciously, though a lot of it has been my practice for years. The nutrition and exercise trackers are tools that have been enormously helpful to me, and if I got nothing else from SP, this would be extremely beneficial.
What came through for me in the pinch, though, is the tool I never thought I'd get into: a SP team. Don't get me wrong, I usually will do what I'm told to do, what is 'right' to do. And so I jumped into the team spirit, only not really. I thought it was silly, hoaky, ditzy, you name it. But I tried. I went for the teams that I thought might be of interest, and found myself adding friends.
It didn't take long to figure out which ones I really connected to (teams and friends), and no, it wasn't always the ones I expected. And by paying attention to which teams these folks were actively involved with, I learned to navigate this site a little better, and find teams that really were a better fit. And I read about challenge teams: I couldn't imagine it would make any difference, but was willing to give it a try.
So one fine day I found myself part of several challenges, and that first week, my world was rocked by the death of my mother. It was not unexpected, but it was mind boggling nonetheless. But I didn't spin out of control, au contraire! I had team mates I couldn't let down, and a job to do. I had to exercise, I had to drink water, I had to watch what I ate and get the right amount of sleep. I probably wouldn't have done it just for me - I can let myself down right and left. But my team mates deserved better. Or so I thought.
A week later I'm still going strong. And I realize that it really was me I wasn't going to let down, although you, my friends, were there to hold out a hand to me. And you all came through for me. For that, I'm profoundly grateful.
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