In earlier years, gatherings were held mostly in members’ homes. Imagine, in 1973, a Saloon & Dancehall Shindig, a Ghouls and Ghosts party, a cookie baking evening, and then a Fathers’ Day baseball game. Over the years, members have continued creating environments where our children have interacted with others their age, allowing them to participate in American activities like their cousins do in the States. We had storytelling hours at Pat’s, iced Valentine cookies with Terry, and picked strawberries at the farm led by Margaret. Here our children met other American families, and found that Mom was not the only crazy woman forcing them to speak American English.
Those were the ‘old’ days. Now it’s much easier to find English in our daily world. But it is not always the same for American culture, and for that AAWE still holds the reins. The year’s calendar typically includes an Easter party, a late-spring baseball game, and a year-end holiday event. In autumn, the Halloween Party is THE event of the year. In the days when airplane baggage was not weighed, members would bring back from the USA summer suitcases full of Halloween candy and party favors to serve up at AAWE bashes. Here in the suburbs, a trip to the local farm yielded 100 pumpkins (!) for door prizes. And USA Girl Scout volunteers make for great role models. The party fun creates lots of memories…nostalgia for the parents looking back at cute photos, but also, hopefully, for their children too. It’s all true, from the big to smaller events to the more intimate home gatherings, that these AAWE activities help our children share with friends here that they know what it’s like to celebrate in the ‘American’ way.
Now there’s one last children’s event you may not realize existed. It was Kids’ Nite Out, a wonderful fun time on a much smaller scale dedicated to our children 8-11 years old who were too old to be with the little kids yet could party in the evening. Again, AAWE moms put together enjoyable pre-teen themes. And if you ask our now-grown-up generation of participants, they will all tell you the best memory from KNO is the pizza dinner and the BINGO game !
AAWE continues to bring American culture to our children through these activities as best we can with the demands of the modern age. And it’s worth it. Not only so our children can feel comfortable being bicultural, but also for those organizing, as we have bonded into several generations of moms who remained friends, watching our children grow up with a choice of stepping into a French or American world. Just as Phyllis said: ”[Nos enfants] joueront à la pétanque aussi bien qu’au baseball.”
Thank you, AAWE!
Contributors: Deborah Berzon, Terry Duchène, Margaret Jenkins, Lise Ducrey, Ann Leprêtre, Jill Jacquot (an ‘older’ generation of moms!)