We had a little gathering at our house on friday evening. It was Bastille Day, Husband had the day off, and we hadn't done anything for the 4th of July because the kids and I had to make a trip to Nantes that week. So I told the boys it would be a combo Independance Day / Bastille Day party.
I invited a new American friend of mine (T) and her 5 year old daughter. T's English husband was away on business. Also in attendance were two clients/friends of Husband's that I hadn't yet met. Both are English. I had planned a very American menu to represent the Independance Day stuff and we were all planning on drinking wine here in Laval, France so I figured that counted as the Bastille Day stuff. Oh yeah, and we walked up the street to watch the parade in the morning. The boys were very impressed by the bands and soliders and fire engines. I was happy we had a spot in the shade and an iced coffee right afterwards.
That afternoon, while I was in the kitchen cooking, Boy1 started to ask some questions. What was Bastille Day? What was Independance Day? Husband was standing in the hall and stayed close by. He has, I'm sorry to say, very little faith in my culture générale, and I suppose he has his reasons. It all started when, after having bought me a bouquet of flowers, he started talking about the Carnation Revolution in Portugal. Up until then, I'd never heard about a revolution in Portugal. Yes, I know, my ignorance is showing. I've got a few university degrees, but not much general culture. On the up side, he is quick to say that I have somewhat more general cultural/historical knowledge than many Americans. Cold comfort when you see the results of that exam they give all the BA grads at University of Arizona - you know the one I'm talking about - half the people can't find Portugal on a map or say who we fought against during World War I. (Please note: Husband's not being judgemental, he just knows how little some Americans know about the rest of the world). Anyway.
Back to the kitchen conversation with Boy1. I told him that Bastille Day was about a time when France was ruled by kings, not presidents and prime ministers and unions. The kings hadn't been running the country very well, the poor were very poor and the rich were very rich and the poor were fed up. So they took to the streets and changed things. Husband listened with approval. No mess-ups so far.
Independance Day, I told him, is about a time when my country was still ruled by the English. We wanted our Independance and so we fought a war against them to win it. Husband then joined the conversation. And you know what, he said to Boy1, the French helped the Americans fight that war.
Boy1 looked at us and asked, why did the French help the Americans fight the English?
I replied, because the French LOVE to fight the English. Husband laughed and made no modifications to my explanation.
History lesson à la Nicole.