I’m in a strange place when it comes to Thanksgiving, an awkward sort of betwixt and between. It’s a holiday that doesn’t quite fit – a slipper one half size too small, a sock with an intrusive seam. Not that I don’t like the holiday – who could complain about turkey and mashed potatoes and dressing and cranberries and a day off work to spend time with family being thankful for stuff?
My problem is born of being a Canadian in a foreign land.
Yes, my US friends, although I have lived now in your country for nigh on eighteen years, many of your ways are still foreign unto me. Your Thanksgiving holiday is just one of those things.
Yes, Canada also has Thanksgiving, and in many ways it is much the same holiday – turkey, feasting, family, taking time to give thanks. But it happens in October.
You know what’s awesome about this?
It happens in October. This means a nice space of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Time to recover from the stuffing of the first feast and be hungry for the second. More time to get ready for Christmas. The holiday season in Canada felt a little more spacious and forgiving to me, a little less rushed and chaotic. Of course, I was younger then. There was not quite so much going on.
For years after we moved across the border we observed both holidays. Of course there was no convenient day off work and school for Canadian Thanksgiving, but we aimed for the nearest weekend and enjoyed our October feast. And then feasted again in November. By the time Christmas rolled around in December, the idea of yet another turkey dinner was not quite so appealing.
A couple of years ago, I let Canadian Thanksgiving quietly slip away. I still miss it though – there’s an emptiness in my Octobers now that wants to be filled.
The good thing about all of this is that, no matter what time of year Thanksgiving happens to roll around – or even if you live in one of those countries where (gasp) Thanksgiving isn’t observed at all – there’s always a great deal for which to be thankful. We tend to forget gratitude, I think, in the rush and flurry of our lives. It’s good to have this reminder, a day literally set aside for the purpose to remember to give thanks.
So what am I thankful for?
Today, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking of the small things. The Viking sitting at the table beside me muttering over bills. The deer out in my yard at the corn feeder. My cat, basking contentedly in the warmth of the wood stove. The mystical way fog hangs over the hill and moves trees in and out of focus. The grace of a healthy body and the absence of pain. On Monday, when this is posted, I will be heading back to work after medical leave. There will be stress involved in this process, I’m sure, but I will carry the small gifts with me like a talisman in my pocket.
Tell us one thing you are thankful for today – anything large or small
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