“A delicate tale of bliss”

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 13. Thanksgiving, Paris by Howard1 Comment

There is no Thanksgiving in France. French don’t even have a translation for “thanksgiving”. Thus, while all my American friends are taking their four-day break, I’m doing the usual routine.

To me, Thanksgiving is more about the experience at night. I spent my last Thanksgiving in New York City, and all I remember was the empty streets in the daytime, all the closed stores, and a rather depressing view for me. However, at night, with the company of friends, dinner shattered all the cold depressing glasses. We sat together, chatting and was thankful for everything.

My Paris thanksgiving experience was also more about the nights. During the daytime, it was normal as any other day. But at night, the smell of Thanksgiving just swelled in the room, and all over Paris.

Thursday night, I was invited with all other NYU students to Pullman hotel for the grand Thanksgiving dinner. The hotel was located a few blocks away from the Eiffel Tower, and it supposed to have the best view of it. However, the restaurant was on the basement floor, so instead of beholding the scenery of Paris, we got more time to bond with each other. All of us were so starving at first and we ate many loaves of bread. This leads to later that we don’t have any bread left to scoop out the delicious pumpkin soup. So first lesson of that night: always save a bread for scooping out the soup. Then before the main dish turkey was presented, our professors made a speech and wished us all a happy holiday. Even I’m thousands of miles away from home, the nostalgic feelings coming along with Thanksgiving were all gone by then. We had a great dinner after that. Later we went out to see the Eiffel tower and took photos of it so we could remember this unreal experience in Paris.

Friday night, my friends came to Paris for a visit and to share this holiday with me. It was a chilly night. No stars spotted. The whole city was still lit up. We walked along the Seine and listened to songs with our speaker. We owned that moment, standing in the breeze and on the land of the best city. Since the Louvre was opened till 10 pm, we sauntered around the pyramids outside. The lights beamed down on us, reflecting golden colors on us.

Saturday night, we had a nice dinner in a French restaurant. It was called Raclette. Basically, there was a wield where we put the cheese on and heated it up until it melted. Then we poured it over our food. In my mouth, I tasted the gratification of thanksgiving. After dinner, we poured us some wine and kept the conversations going. It was simple and satisfying. We savored good cheese, and good moments too.

Sunday night, we had ramen together. It was the end of this Thanksgiving weekend. From wine and raclette to ramen and coke, it foreshadowed us back to the “reality”. This weekend was very unreal, especially when in the middle of the night, I headed up and realized I was in Paris. Later I took my friends to the airport. On our way there, we brought up our memories together and had a great laugh about them. We hugged each other at the airport, and I looked at them walking into the security, just like, maybe, how my mom saw me a few months ago.

On the way back, I put on my headset to Take That’s Wonderful World.

They sing:

Time was all we had but
It was never ours to keep
Time can help you find the ground and knock you off your feet
All those minutes get lost in time
One step forward two steps behind
So before I think myself too deep
What a wonderful world this is
What a delicate tale of bliss.


  1. Hi Howard!

    This is a beautifully written and moving piece. Even though the day was not given any special meaning where you were located, you made it special through your experiences. It felt like there was an intersection between some classic traditions, such the Thanksgiving feast, and also doing things you could only do in Paris. I think that is the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving abroad. You don’t want to completely disregard the holiday; however, you also don’t want to spend time longing for your previous experiences of Thanksgiving,

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