The Callahans are convening in Charlottesville this year. A local French chef is preparing our Thanksgiving dinner. A baker in town is making the pies. My sweating and swearing days in the kitchen are—thankfully—over.
As a family, we will gather around the table and give our collective thanks: For our sweet granddaughter, Charlie, who will soon turn one. She’s the happiest human I know, and we are all smitten. And for our grandson, Jack, who is increasingly “just” a normal boy. He is kind and inquisitive and, most importantly, healthy.
With the meal over and the dishes done, we’ll reconvene around the table and play Sushi Go or Scattegories or Exploding Kittens. In our family, we don’t debate politics around our Thanksgiving table, but rather we fight like feral cats about who’s cheating (usually Mike. I’m still not over kale as an answer for a gift that begins with k) or who has forgotten the rules (often Pat, sometimes me).
Finally, it will be a Thanksgiving of normalcy.
Looking back, I wrote my last Thanksgiving blog post in 2018. We had celebrated in our apartment in Paris with our neighbors Mark and Mary. That year, I wrote that I was thankful for our life on Rue Ternaux.
Little did I realize how uprooted our life would soon become. Within three months, we would move home. By summer, I would give our landlord notice.
Come November, we would spend Thanksgiving in a row house in Philadelphia. Jack would be released from an extended hospital stay late Thanksgiving day. Our thankfulness that year was mired in anxiety.
We followed a cancer Thanksgiving with a Covid one. And then a cautiously calm one.
Which brings me to this year—and the rest of the story.
At the time I gave my landlord notice, I told her, “Someday when the apartment becomes available again, let me know. Maybe by then …” She and I have kept in touch.
Some weeks ago, I wrote a post about a special wine tasting in Margaux, France. What I didn’t mention was that as the tasting ended, I saw an email pop up on my phone from my landlord.
“Dear Julie, I realize it’s been a long time and your plans have probably changed, but Rue Ternaux just became available …”
I read the email aloud to Pat.
“Julie, this is your decision.”
Very long pause.
“So what are you gonna do?”
I gave him one of those we’ve-been-married-for-43-years-you-know-exactly-what-I’m-gonna-do looks.
“To receive this, here, in France, during one of the best days of our lives? If this isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is.”
He rolled his eyes.
Three days later, we signed the lease.
Yet Rue Ternaux will be different this time. We will come and go. Our kids will have their own keys to come and go. I picture our grandchildren vacationing there over the years.
To this end, I will continue to foster Jack’s obsession with Paris (he’s going for spring break) and create a similar one in Charlie (she already eats croissants for breakfast).
I love a day devoted to thankfulness.
For my family.
My life in Charlottesville.
My life on Rue Ternaux.
Categories: Life in Paris