No, it’s not wrong; just different. We use that phrase a lot when talking about contrasting situations between the country where we used to live and where we now reside. For example, Mother’s Day was two weeks ago in the US but in France it’s observed today, 112 years after the Alpine village of Artas issued an award of merit to two mothers with nine children each. In 1929 the government, in an effort to promote childbirth after WWI, formally recognized the day and in 1950 it was written into law to honor French mothers on the last Sunday of May in what is fittingly called the Fête des Mères or if translated literally, the “Celebration of Mothers”.
Although the date may be different, the day is observed essentially the same as it is in America. Sundays are generally pretty quiet here because most of the shops are closed; however, on the last Sunday of May all of the activity around town makes it clear that something special is going on. Our windows open onto the street and the first year that we lived here we saw an endless parade of people carrying flowers, boxes of chocolates, plus pastries and cakes from the bakeries near us passing by in the morning. As lunchtime approached, carloads of families arrived with everyone filtering into our neighbors’ homes for what is traditionally the big meal of the day.
Although we don’t subscribe to any of the premium TV channels or other monthly services, friends Sally and Larry invited us to watch a program presented by late night television host David Letterman. He was interviewing a former US President and I replayed part of the broadcast twice so that I could write down the following, knowing that it would be perfect for a blog post like this one. Letterman asked, “What values did you learn from your mother” to which the former President replied:
- Be honest
- Be kind
- Be useful
- Be responsible
- Work hard
- Treat everybody with respect
Bill and I call our neighborhood a “village” because we see those values demonstrated on a daily basis. How appropriate that this month one of our neighbors turned 100 years old and she will soon, I expect, discover that she is to become a great-great grandmother. Happy Fête des Mères!