I didn't call my mother to wish her a happy Mother's Day yesterday. I forgot, as I do most years, not because I don't love her, but because it's not the same day here. In France, it's the last saturday in May. So I call her on the French one and she forgives me for not remembering and says sweet things like, "That's ok, I get to have two Mother's Days this way."
But the Mother's Day thing brings up a bigger issue. Aside from the big holidays, Christmas and Easter, for example, the holidays are different here. Obviously, you're probably thinking. This is a traditionally Catholic country, and while they could teach us a thing or 200 about real separation of church and state, Catholic holidays do dominate the calendar. All Saint's Day, Acension, Penecost, Easter Monday, these are all bank holidays here. But I don't do much about them, not being French and not being Catholic. Some other big American holidays, Thanksgiving and 4th of July, for example, I don't do much about either. Thanksgiving because, well, it's hard to schedule much on a thursday when everyone works and the following weekend is usually when we celebrate my birthday, (December 1st in case you want to leave a birthday well-wishing comment that day) and spending 12 hours in my kitchen is not how I want to spend my birthday weekend. Gosh, I am SO high-maintenance. 4th of July, well, I guess because Independance day here, Bastille Day, is the 14th, so they both kind of get lost in the shuffle. But as the kids get older I realize I need to get a little more into the spirit of things.
There's a fine line you have to live with when you raise children biculturally. I want them to feel American but I also want them to feel at home here, not like foreigners. And I'm realizing that I've been putting most of the American focus on language, which is ridiculous, as if being American, or any nationality, could be reduced to linguistics. But reflections like that lead me to questions like what does it mean to be American and I don't really have an easy answer. I guess this is just one of those situations where it's best to fake it until it's real. So, Lorraine, get that book published, I could use some great ideas for establishing (Franco-American) traditions in my family. I'm officially pre-ordering my copy.