Monday, October 10, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Some thoughts about Canadian Thanksgiving or as I call it, Thanksgiving.

This is one of those odd holidays that means a lot of things and many of them aren't particularly nice. Even if we accept the narrative that indigenous people welcomed the Europeans to the New World with a feast, it is still shameful what happened afterwards. Even if you are someone who believes in finders keepers, there is an inherent meanness to treating those that showed you hospitality and how to survive here the way that the Europeans did.

Even the bitter and racist saying of "Indian giver" hints that somehow there was a big misunderstanding that went to the benefit of the white people. So, Thanksgiving as a celebration of that one nice dinner party we had that time with those nice folk, and gosh, whatever happened to them? doesn't cut it for me.

A second, more generous interpretation of being an ongoing festival of harvest time sits a little better. I remember these days well where you pulled up the last of the garden and canned and celebrated the final warm days before winter. It seemed like a time to show gratitude. In our case, it was God, the church and the crops. We have lost our connection to the soil and so much is now bought in cans, packages and wrapped produce but still not all is so glum. Even if you are the staunchest atheist who believes that humans are all self made, you must be thankful that the science, culture and civilization that got us here still hasn't destroyed us all. Hubris and pessimism is a tough row to hoe and it yields very little productive crops. Still, we are where we are and that is at least something to be grateful for.

For me, there is a third theme that underlies Thanksgiving. Every year, around Christmas, my former spouse and I would invite friends for a chosen Christmas. It was a leftover from my days of living in a house with my friends when we would invite over all of our friends to share a meal and party. Part of that was that it was the first time that we could all breath and relax during university and partly, as a way to share with those few friends who were not going home. Sometimes it was due to work, being too far away, being estranged or any other reason. My former spouse and I invited people who were our friends in the same way. It was a way of sharing and showing our gratitude for their friendship. In the last few years, I have not done any of this and it makes me sad to not have that moment to thank everyone.

This year, I made a mini feast; stuffed turkey breast, boiled turnip, roasted potatoes and a pumpkin stout cheesecake. I shared it.

When I was at my mother's this year, we had a ham. One of my sisters and I made the supper as Mom had had surgery about a week before and couldn't do all the cooking. It was a simple meal made better by us all helping and that the surgery had gone well. Small, simple and generous.

I still have most meals with the kids around the table and I am thankful every time I sit down. Not in the Hallmark card way but a genuine sigh of contentment. There is something about just existing and enjoying the moment that makes me want to share it with people who are close to me but are unable to share it with anyone.

I think I will do a Christmas dinner party this year and maybe start to think about how I can get back to those moments of grace once again.

1 comment:

  1. I was lucky enough to be included in one of your friend dinners many years ago. It was lovely and something we have tried to do ourselves over the years. I hope your mom will recover well, and wish you and all your family a very happy Thanksgiving. I'm thankful to have you for a friend.