An American Thanksgiving with a Canadian

It is not the opening line to a joke, sure there is one in there someplace but in my four years in America it still feels wrong to celebrate thanksgiving in November. Most of the time I want to shout ‘You are doing wrong!!!’ but I don’t.

D’s sister comes down every year to cook for us all, their mother had sisters and each of them had a holiday – thanksgiving was his mother’s holiday. I understand this, I take ritual and customs/tradition very seriously and perhaps that is why I feel this particular holiday celebrated with this family is missing something.

The whole thing feels as though they are just going through the motions: cook food, eat food, leave to digest food. The long hours of talking and laughing are missing, mom is barely mentioned and I have yet to see evidence of her recipes on the table: mashed potatoes from a box would make any good Catholic Irish woman roll over in her grave! The grand-kids do not come down with her nor does the other sister; she just shows up, cooks and then leaves in the next couple of days.

Now I will tell you that we Canadians come from different places and you are just as likely to find potato salad with peas or pickles in it on the east coast or end up eating tofurkey on the west but what I have never experienced before is the sense that being with family is work. You can tell that fist fights at the mall over a day of sales is really about having cooked for hours for a bunch of people you cannot stand being in the same room with on an average night – take away mall hours, internet hours and add kids and family at home; you can understand why they ready for a good rumble.

My husband and me assume his family tradition, certainly I have entertained the idea of celebrating my own Canadian thanksgiving in October with them here but at this time of year I am often alone. I don’t mind actually, I mean I miss MY family and OUR traditions but it is more important for us here to allow others at my husband’s place of work to be with their kids. We don’t have kids – so he usually works the holidays. It is just the people all over the place seem to be busy about stuff, things, rather than the relationships with each other – if that makes sense.

Friday is our thanksgiving dinner.

Tomorrow I was invited to eat with Alex and his grandfather and I have decided today to accept. I still have not written about my date with Alex, it was great, but I adore his grandfather. So it will be interesting to see what their family tradition looks likes: two bachelors and a turkey.

So Happy Thanksgiving Amurka – may your bird be stuffed to bursting with three other kinds of meat and wrapped in bacon then deep fried in peanut oil, the alcohol never ending and the family gone quickly!

P.S From all us heathens, you are most welcome for not letting your ancestors starve, though in retrospect …

One comment on “An American Thanksgiving with a Canadian

  1. kdaddy23 says:

    Mashed potatoes from a box… that’s just sad. As you say, tradition is important. When it was my turn to cook Thanksgiving dinner, oh, it was a production and I’d have the children in the kitchen with me, giving them tasks – like peeling all the potatoes, chopping and dicing stuff and just having fun with them. One year, my youngest son asked, “Pop, can I make the mashed potatoes this year?” I knew that he’d been watching me make them for years (and ate more of them than I did) so I told him to go for it, keeping an eye on him as I did other things. I was quite proud to watch him fuss over dicing the potatoes just right, then adding the right amounts of butter, cream, and pepper – he was so serious!

    At dinner, everyone was complimenting me on yet another masterful batch of mashed potatoes but I said, “I didn’t do the potatoes – Jon did…”

    He’s since changed my recipe, adding roasted garlic and other flavors; I’ve had his mashed potatoes and they’re pretty damned good but the important thing is that he has his sons in the kitchen with him and showing them how we make perfect mashed potatoes.

    Traditions must not only be observed, they must be preserved and passed along as well… even if you’re Canadian (I guess someone has to be).

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