It’s been a fun week discussing Thanksgiving with my classes. We read a kids’ Thanksgiving story that I brought from America, ate candy corn, made hand turkeys, and colored leaves and wrote what we’re thankful for on them. During a week where many of my students’ questions circled back to the attacks in Paris last Friday, I can’t think of a better time to focus on gratitude.
The phrase “I’m thankful for…” is a fairly difficult one for my students to understand. They obviously picked out “thank” quickly and associated it with merci, but we had trouble describing this important Thanksgiving phrase. I suggested synonyms including “I’m happy to have…” and “I’m grateful for” but they kept associating it with the phrase “Je vous remercie…” (thank you for…) One girl finally asked, “But Madame, who is the vous?” In a country where laïcité (secularism) is strictly observed in schools (no one can wear religious symbols on school property), I was careful how to respond. It occurred to me thank thankfulness feels purposeless without acknowledging the recipient of our thanks. It made me thankful that I trust in a God who’s so worthy of my praise.
We made lists in every class of what we’re thankful for to brainstorm for what to put on the thankfulness leaves we made. Here are some of the things my students are thankful for:
- French police
It was interesting to me that about half of the things they proposed were typical middle school things (tacos and presents) but they were also keenly aware of the recent events as they suggested we add “freedom, safety, and French police” to the list.
I hope to spend a significant amount of time over the next week considering the many things for which I’m thankful. I find myself so thankful for the many friends and coworkers who have made my transition to French life and culture so easy. I’m thankful for a God who is so incredibly faithful. And I’m thankful for grace and reconciliation that make this world so much brighter.