(One day a shepherd boy was out walking with his sheep along the Champs Elysees in Paris when he tripped over a Bouche Noel. In anger he kicked it and found this scroll underneath explaining Thanksgiving to the French.

Victor Hugo translated the document, and since then it has provided enlightenment to generations of French who never understood what Americans did in November.One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as "le Jour de Merci Donnant."

The day was first started by a group of Pilgrims ("Pelerins") who fled from "l'Angleterre" before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World ("le Nouveau Monde"), where they could shoot Indians ("les Peaux-Rouges") and eat turkey ("dinde") to their hearts' content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous "voiture Americaine") in a wooden sailing ship named the Mayflower, or "Fleur de Mai," in 1620. But while the "Pelerins" were killing the "dindes," the "Peaux-Rouges" were killing the "Pelerins," and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the "Peaux-Rouges" helped the "Pelerins" was teaching them to grow corn ("mais"). The reason they did this was they liked corn with their "Pelerins."

In 1623, after another harsh year, the "Pelerins' " crops were so good that they decided to celebrate and give thanks because more "mais" was raised by the "Pelerins" than "Pelerins" were killed by the "Peaux-Rouges."

Every year on "le Jour de Merci Donnant," parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration.

It concerns a brave "capitaine" named Miles Standish (known in France as "Kilometres Deboutish") and a shy young lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The "vieux capitaine" said to the "jeune lieutenant":

"Go to the damsel Priscilla ("Allez tres vite chez Priscilla"), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth ("la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth"). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action ("un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe"), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning.

Although Jean was fit to be tied ("convenable a etre emballe"), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow ("rendue muette par l'etonnement et la tristesse").

At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence, "If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?" ("Ou est-il, le vieux Kilometres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas aupres de moi pour tenter sa chance?")

Jean said that "Kilometres Deboutish" was very busy. Finally, Priscilla said in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, Jean?" ("Chacun a son gout").

And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table, brimming with tasty dishes, and for the only time during the year eat better than the French do.

No one can deny that "le Jour de Merci Donnant" is a "grand fete, " and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to "Kilometres Deboutish," who made this day possible.