Pardoning ‘Tom the Turkey’ in Paris for Thanksgiving This Year

All photos by Bellanda ®


Taking time to appreciate nature this Thanksgiving…
Bois de Vincennes – Paris, France

Well, today is the day… the day when most Americans will sit down to a delicious meal with a great big turkey as their main course.  Even my expat friends from all over the world will be celebrating Thanksgiving either today or this weekend.  However, this year we have decided to pardon ‘Tom the Turkey.’

No, I don’t go around naming all of the animals or vegetables I eat, nor am I crazy (Yes, I agree, that last part might be up for discussion).  My point being, there was indeed a real ‘Tom the Turkey’ and he changed my life forever.

When I was five, my parents had an absolutely brilliant idea (at least they thought it was a brilliant idea at first).  They decided that it was healthier to buy a fresh turkey as opposed to one of the frozen ones that they usually bought in the supermarket.  What better way to get a healthy turkey than to go to a turkey farm?  So, my parents, two brothers and one sister and I all jumped into the car rather excited to actually visit a farm.

We lived about 35 minutes from Manhattan and to be quite honest had never been to any kind of farm whatsoever.  I was filled with excitement, but truly had no idea of the meaning behind all of this.  All I knew was that we would see animals on the farm and for a five-year old with no pets, that’s rather cool, or so I thought.

When we arrived I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Turkeys were walking around everywhere!  My parents told us to check out the turkeys and pick one out while they talked to the people who worked on the farm.  We of course did as we were told with huge smiles on our faces.  We found the most beautiful one of all and gave him a name.  This was the first time in our lives the four of us agreed on anything so quickly. Tom…it had to be Tom! (Sorry for all of you out there with the same name, but Tom the Turkey just kind of has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?)

Our parents headed in our direction, “Did you pick out a turkey?”

“Yes, isn’t he gorgeous? We named him Tom.  Can we take him home now?”  I was so proud!

This is the moment when I saw a strange look in the eyes of my parents, as they realized that perhaps they weren’t quite clear as to what we were actually doing there. Thus followed a ‘big’ discussion as to where our food comes from.

“You mean you’re going to kill him?” Tears rolled down my cheeks.

My brother asked, “You want us to EAT Tom?”

All four of us began to cry as each proclaimed never to eat Tom.  He was our new pet, not our dinner!  As our Mom tried to explain where all meat comes from, my mind began spin and my smile had long faded.  I had never really thought about it before.  How could I not have known this before?  In an attempt to try to appease, us our parents bought a different turkey from that farm.

On Thanksgiving Day my Mom cooked the turkey, placed it on the table, and all four of us children looked at it unlike any other turkey before.   I just sat there looking at this poor cooked turkey thinking that I would have been happy just to eat the mashed potatoes.  Once again, tears rolled down my face.  I couldn’t eat a thing.  This was perhaps the quietest Thanksgiving dinner in the history of our family.  None of us children would eat the turkey, let alone allow our Mom to put it in our dishes. We watched our parents eat as if it were a criminal offense.  My poor well-meaning parents felt terrible.  It was the first and last farm bought turkey they ever purchased. Once again, our parents tried to explain the food chain, and where all the meat we have eaten for years comes from and that this was no different.

However, for me, this couldn’t have been furthest from the truth. In fact, everything was different, and nothing would ever be the same.  Something changed in me. Traumatized from this moment forward, I didn’t eat turkey or any other meat willingly until my early thirties. Yes, it took me that long to get over it!

As I said, I am indeed over the whole meat trauma and even enjoy eating meat today.  So, why pardon ‘Tom the Turkey’ this year?  I’d love to say that it was because I was traumatized as a child, because that would make for a good excuse.  However, that wouldn’t even be close to the truth.  The truth is actually embarrassingly pathetic.  Although it is indeed possible to find all the fixings and a turkey, I just don’t have all of the extra energy it takes to put all of this together in Paris this year.

Even though we are pardoning Tom this year, my family and I will take this day, as we do each day, to be thankful for all we have.  Life is a gift and each breath we take a blessing.  We are indeed thankful to have each other, and I am thankful to be sharing this Thanksgiving with you via Internet.  May your Thanksgivings be filled with happiness, love and wonderful stories around the table reminiscing.

Next year, I promise to make a delicious turkey… Although, there is one thing I am sure of – he won’t be named Tom.

Happy Thanksgiving!


The Story Behind the Photo:

Perhaps you’ve seen it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram… but where in this gorgeous city of Paris was this photo taken?


For those of you who know me from my close to 12,000 tweets (Yes, I can indeed be a chatterbox; thus the new blog), you might already know that one of the things I truly hate to do is to go shopping. When I say shopping, I am referring to any kind of shopping whatsoever.

I know this is Paris and it’s perhaps even a criminal offense not to enjoy shopping, but that’s just how it is.  I’m the kind of gal who you literally have to drag out to buy my own clothing in order to replace my ripped jeans.  If I’m lucky, I’ll give the store a very quick once around & head to the fitting room, where I’ll usually wait while either my Mom or even my sweet French man run around picking things out for me to try on.  I know that this all sounds rather pathetic, but on the plus side I’m saving money, right?

That said, when this very same dear sweet French man told me he had a surprise outing for me, I was thrilled at the idea of what we would be doing whilst our two little ones were at school.  I mean, this is Paris and it was raining, but even walking down the beautiful streets in the rain puts a smile on my face!

A date, big or small, while the kiddies are at school is something we always try to treat ourselves to from time to time.  However, when we arrived in front of the large shopping store, Printemps, I cringed, secretly praying, please keep walking… please keep walking. He looked at me with a huge smile and said, “We’re here!”

I looked at his adorable face, filled with excitement, and smiled as I tried to act happy to be here. The truth is, Printemps really is a great department store, and he was just so happy. How on earth could I burst his little bubble? I told myself how lucky I was to even have a man who would even want to go shopping with me, shut my mouth, and took everything in stride with a smile.

We went into the store, climbed one escalator after another.  While heading toward an elevator he said, “It’s best if we start at the top and work our way down.”  That made sense to me, and well, he really was being very cute about everything.  It’s not like I was getting teeth pulled or anything, so even I started getting caught up in his excitement.

When we got to the top floor, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  For those of you who know Printemps, you’ve probably already figured out where he was bringing me.  For those who don’t know, there is a huge circular traditional brasserie located at the top, with an enormous dome-like stained glass ceiling that dates to 1923.  Truly a sight to be seen!  The colorful interior was modernized by designer Didier Gomez.

The last thing I was expecting was to find a restaurant at the top of Printemps. Not only does that man of mine really know me, but he apparently has a great sense of humor –  lunch, gorgeous view, and a little surprise was what he had in mind… not shopping.  He got me!

Printemps: A place worth checking out when in Paris, and not just for the shopping.


Yes, that’s me… admiring the view at Brasserie Printemps.

64, boulevard Haussmann – Paris 9 ème

Photo/Editing/Text Credits: Bellanda ®

Tribute to my Grandfather, a man who lived almost 100 years…



Imagine being born in the year 1913… when Ford’s Model T cars were rolling around, fresh off of the assembly line, and women suffragists were demonstrating for the right to vote.   I’ve tried to imagine all he has seen throughout these years, but it’s almost incomprehensible to have been witness to all he has.  Not only has my grandfather lived all of this, he has done so with grace, hard work and a wonderful sense of humor.  Less than 2 months away from his 100th birthday, he was still joking, still dancing, still playing the piano, and still flirting with all the pretty young ladies.

Edward was a child born into a wealthy family, not because they had always been, but because his father left Italy to make his fortune by living the American Dream.  As a child, Edward went from being taught that it was polite to leave a little food in your plate at the dinner table to wishing that he still had that food as he walked away from the table hungry when the market crashed in the1920s.

His family was considered one of the lucky ones, as they didn’t immediately lose everything in the market.  They owned blocks of Real Estate.  Yet, when the time came, his family’s kind heart saw the despair and tragedy of tenants who could no longer pay their rent.  They decided not to put these people out on the street, and in doing so caused their own financial disaster.  My grandfather had to leave school and begin working… and work he did, hard and long to support his family.

In his lifetime, he saw a changing world and moved with the times, evolving not only his way of life, but his way of thinking, which is not always easy for those of our elders.  He was even considered a man who was born ahead of his time, with his liberal thinking and family values.  When his wife died, leaving their two small children behind, he went against the rules of society.  He fought to keep and raise his two children alone, which was totally unheard of in this day.  True, my Mom’s hair wasn’t always perfectly arranged, nor her clothing, but he did the best he could while working full-time to support his family.  To him what was most important was that they were together.

He lived through World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Charles Lindbergh’s first trans-Atlantic flight, the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Empire State Building opening in New York City in 1931, The Great Depression of 1933, Prohibition in 1920 and the end of Prohibition in 1933, Segregation, Integration, Brown versus Board of Education in 1954, Civil Rights Acts of 1960s, Neil Armstrong setting foot upon the moon… This list can go on forever, but Edward never stopped learning and moving with the times.

At the age of 99 Edward went into his first swimming pool, and was even introduced to the internet.  Although he never made it over to Paris, France, his very first internet video chat took place with his great-grandchildren, as well as with me and my sweet French man.  His feet never made it here, but his face appeared on our computer screen here in Paris a few weeks ago. He kept saying, “I can’t believe it! This is incredible!”

One of the very last things Edward did before he passed away was to walk into an election center and proudly cast his vote for Barack Obama.  He, as well all around were so excited to see someone of his age not only be able to walk in, but cast his vote so very proudly.  When they put the, I Voted Sticker on his jacket, he proudly walked out and showed everyone.  His smile couldn’t have been bigger.

Edward died suddenly, after a fall, while he was planning a big party to celebrate his 100th birthday.  Even though his spirit has gone, his life is indeed something to celebrate.

To my Grandfather… I am so very proud of how you evolved with the times and how you laughed and lived life to the fullest, while keeping your hard-working values.  I am so very grateful to have had a grandfather like you, for you were indeed a treasure who will live on forever in our thoughts, hearts and minds and spirits.   You will live on in your three children, one step child, nine grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren… some of who have your magical musical ear & piano ability.

A candle burns for you in Sacré-Coeur Basilica, in Paris France today… You did indeed make it over here grandpa. We love you.


Photo/Editing Credits: Bellanda ®