I’ve gotten strange looks from people when I say I’m bringing seemingly ordinary things back to France from the U.S when I’m there on vacation — things that surely exist in France yet aren’t quite the same to me. Things like cake pans and towels and certain brands of makeup or clothes or shoes. “Don’t they have cookie sheets in France,” my dad asked. Of course they do, but it just isn’t the same as picking out the ones I want from Homegoods, getting a great deal and feeling like a piece of home is now with me in my new home in France.
My home in France
That’s right, folks, we’ve moved — a whole mile down the road but we’re now in a house! If you’ve been following my blog, you know that Tom and I are the proud new owners of a cute little home complete with a real kitchen (full-size fridge and oven, counter top and dishwasher!!) and a little backyard! The real fun starts after we’ve unpacked and can start decorating, infusing little pieces of ourselves into the fabric of our new abode. Paint colors, furniture style, lighting and even picture frames all get me really excited — and it feels good.
As you probably gathered, one part of having a new home that’s really important to me is making sure it feels like home. This house is ours and I don’t want to feel like I’m living in someone else’s place or just passing through. And for me, making a home means bringing America to France. Well, one thing at a time anyway.
I took pleasure in shoving cookie trays, baking tins, utensils and even a comforter set into my suitcase when I was recently in Florida. But sometimes I need some help. My generous family understands and they put up with my buying of holiday things (light ones!) and shipping them to me. Why do I do this? Because America is a part of who I am and I like to remember that as often as possible.
Because when you’re speaking French, seeing French culture all around you and realizing that things are different, it helps to remember where you came from.
All of these things do that for me and help me to feel at home. Strange? Maybe. Or maybe not.
I’m not ready to surrender to “all things French” and I don’t think I ever will be.
As long as I still speak English, make trips back to the U.S. and talk to people from home, I don’t think I’ll ever want to let my American side fade away.
And I don’t think I should have to minimize it. Having things from home helps keep it at the forefront, and amid all the croissants and wine, French being spoken around me, the French cars whizzing by and all the French people, I feel grounded knowing that I’m still American. These little things that I’ve chosen to bring into our home are reminders that I am who I am. This is especially the case with holiday decor and everything that happens between now and New Year’s.
And if you’re wondering, it’s not that cookie sheets and the like don’t exist in France — they do — it’s just that it’s more comforting to me to have cookie sheets from a brand I know and love. The same type I had when I was living in the U.S. The same kind I grew up with. Bringing these things over from the U.S. helps me to view our new house as a true home and goes a long way toward feeling at ease in new surroundings.
And to be honest, places like Homegoods and Overstock.com don’t really exist in France (to my knowledge). So getting something that’s good quality at a great price that can easily be slipped inside a suitcase you’re lugging home anyway makes a lot of sense to me.
Tom thought it was silly of me at first to buy these things in the U.S. and bring them over. But then I think he started to understand.