Sharing Two of My Favorite Holiday Laughs
Art Buchwald Explains Thanksgiving to the French
This is something of a tradition on this blog – a posting I repeat every Thanksgiving. If you read it before, feel free to read it again. I must have read it 50 times by now and I still love it. The Washington Post and others also reprint it during the season, year after year.
Many, many years ago the great humorist, satirist, and all-around human being Art Buchwald was a young reporter living in Paris, writing for the Herald Tribune. He wrote a little piece, partly informative, mostly humorous, explaining the American holiday of Thanksgiving to his French readers. As Art correctly states, it is the one day of the year Americans eat better than the French.
Here is his article:
Le Grande Thanksgiving
By Art Buchwald
This confidential column was leaked to me by a high government official in the Plymouth colony on the condition that I not reveal his name.
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 (Pelerins) 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 hearts’ content.
They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Americaine) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai ) in 1620. But while the Pelerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pelerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them.
The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pelerins was when they taught them to grow corn (mais). The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pelerins.
In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pelerins’ crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more mais was raised by the Pelerins than Pelerins 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 Kilometres 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 tres 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 tes pain comme un etudiant), 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 tre emballe), 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’tonnement et las 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? ” (Ou est-il, le vieux Kilometres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas aupres de moi pour tenter sa chance?)
Jean said that Kilometres Deboutish was very busy and didn’t have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilometres would make.
Finally, Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, Jean?” (Chacun a son gout.)
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 fete and no matter how well-fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilometres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.
The Infamous WKRP Turkey Drop
WKRP in Cincinnati was a terrific TV comedy show that ran in the late 1970’s. This episode in November 1978 is likely THE classic from that show. It has been watched millions of times. Have fun:
Take a Break
It has been a challenging year+ for most of us. A lot is still ahead of us that requires our attention and our fortitude.
But this is Thanksgiving week. Take a break, enjoy a few laughs and yes, celebrate what we, and you, have to be thankful for at this moment.
For most of us, truth be known, we do indeed have much which merits gratitude.
Have a fine long weekend.
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