Archive for November, 2018

November 20, 2018

Art Buchwald — Thanksgiving Explained #Humor

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

In 1953 a young, twenty-eight year old, Art Buchwald was writing a humor column for the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune. He decided to write a column explaining American Thanksgiving tradition to the French, using a kind of mock-French patois, that today we would call “Franglais“.

This article which I read annually in my parent’s daily newspaper, The Detroit Freepress (@freep). So here my annual homage to Art Buchwald.


Le Grande Thanksgiving

By Art Buchwald

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 hearts’ 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 Pelerins was when they taught them to grow corn (mais). 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 mais 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 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 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 t’es 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 très 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 Kilometres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas auprès 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 fête and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilometres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.

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November 19, 2018

Thanksgiving Traditions … — #Holiday #Tradition #Thanksgiving

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Thanksgiving


Stanczyk,  loves the traditions. The traditions help to demarcate the calendar year. They are milestones to our memories and family histories. For some reason, in my mind the memories are decorated with Robert Frost, or Clement Moore or Charles Dickens. But, Thanksgiving is all about Norman Rockwell & Lydia Maria Child. Huh?

Book, seriesThe poet of “Thanksgiving Day” [aka “Over the river and through the wood”]. Oh there’s turkey and trimmings, Thanksgiving Day Parade, there’s Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Football, and Art Buchwald (Le Merci Donnant) too. But this jester remembers my father and the way he used to read poems to us as he put us to bed. The poems were all from a 1935 The Collier’s New Junior Classics Young Folks’ Shelf of Books, a book, orange in color and loaded with artwork illustrations too.

Today’s poem was one I remember singing in school, though for some reason we sang “to grandmother’s house” instead of the original text.

 

Thanksgiving Day

by LYDIA MARIA CHILD (1802-1880)

Over the river and through the wood,
To grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood--
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,
To have first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring,
"Ting-a-ling-ding!"
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barn-yard gate.
We seem to go
Extremely slow--
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood--
Now grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin-pie!

Yes, there’s a longer version. In the longer version there are dogs and there was one named Jowler …

Over the river, and through the wood,

Old Jowler hears our bells.

He shakes his pow, with a loud bow-wow,[1]

and thus the news he tells.

 

I like the version with the dogs. As cheery, as Finns raking their forrests and trolling the American President!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and the next blog is my tradition of reposting Art Buchwald.

November 9, 2018

1918-2018 – Veterans Day, Armistice Day, Independence Day – #History, #Genealogy

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk, noted by the calendar that this Sunday, 11-November-2018 is a very important centennial. Sunday, marks a very important day in Poland’s history. It’s a time to commemorate not only the end of World War I, as is the case in western Europe on what is known as Armistice Day, but most importantly to Poles, their county’s re-emergence on the map of the world, it is Independence Day!

In America, it’s Veterans Day (formerly Armistice Day). There is much to remember: our Veterans who served in war time, Poland’s re-emergence as a European nation on world maps, and to remember the last pandemic (of 1918). We ended WWI with success. We survived the pandemic. But now it appears that Nationalism and a Pandemic are possibilities in the very near future.

This jester would rather celebrate the veterans. Of course, the Polish-American veteran of WWI deserves some special attention. WHY? Because, the Polish diaspora in America found three ways to fight Nationalism:

  1. They enlisted and joined Haller’s Army (aka French Army / Blue Army).
  2. They enlisted to fight in the Canadian Expeditionary Force [Ancestry]
  3. They enlisted or were drafted and fought in the US Army [Transports] / WWI Draft

In the first two cases, the Polish-American soldier was ahead of the patriotic curve in fighting Nationalism. They joined and fought before America ended it’s isolationism. In the third case, they fought side by side with the rest of America against tyranny. It’s now been a hundred years in the War to End All Wars, and we know it did not end tyranny. Oh we ended it in the 1910’s/1920’s, we ended it again in 1940’s  and faced it many more times since.

This jester had ancestors serve in the World War I military all three ways (Haller’s Army, the Canadian Expeditionary Force (Library & Archives of Canada), & the US Army! Find My Past has Free WWI Searches November 9th-12th. Do not forget PAVA (Polish Army Veterans Association of America)  too. Many paths to search for your American heroes!

 

 

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