My American, can-do, independent attitude was offended by what I interpreted as an imposition and what she considered a generous offer of help. I would have to learn what triggered me and why. In much the same way, Nancy wanted just a bit of her home, I was also searching ways to preserve my identity which was inevitably going to be transformed by living in France. With finesse and diplomacy, my fiancé stood up for us both.
Holidays provided an opportunity to embrace our different heritages and invite our friends and family to share in our buffet of food and styles. Christmas was done formally with foie gras, oysters and goose. I prepared a home-style Thanksgiving every year on a Saturday for all of our French friends. I got used to placing people at the table for formal meals with three long-stemmed glasses for each guest and he learned to accept that Americans congregate in the kitchen or around the barbecue and drink beer from the bottle on the Fourth of July.
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Knowing that culinary and cultural differences are as abundant as Julia Child's recipes in her famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking, your gratitude, acceptance and curiosity will go a long way in successfully concocting your own personal recipe for keeping culinary differences fresh and spicy instead of letting them become a source of tension in your relationship.
Other values, such as our deep desire to have our sons be completely bilingual, bicultural and open to the richness of culture also contributed to our peaceful joyous celebration of cultural differences. As I said before, creating a hospitable and friendly setting around a loving table leads to thoughtfully cultivating communication.
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