~ we gather, we give thanks, and we eat ~
This is an edited version of my weekly newspaper column and though it is early it will serve to whet your appetite for the coming weekend if you are Canadian. I know that many of my readers are not Canadian but I think you may find a few things you can relate to:
“We gather together” are the introductory words of the first verse of a hymn sung traditionally at Thanksgiving. And it very aptly sums up one of the best attributes of Thanksgiving—it brings us together at a table heavily laden with harvest food.
A Canadian living in the United States wrote an article in the October edition of Chatelaine magazine comparing Canadian Thanksgiving with American Thanksgiving. Samantha See’s article, “Turkey Takedown” concluded that: “…we gather. And we dine. And we make a huge mess. But mostly we hang out and talk over each other and laugh and argue and fall asleep on the couch zoned out on tryptophan.”
The big difference between our Thanksgiving and our neighbour to the south, says See, is that we are the “first out of the gate” in that we celebrate in October and not November. Even though we cannot lay claim to the Pilgrims we “celebrate all the same, and Give Thanks and have Family Feasts, and all those good things.” That to me is Thanksgiving in a wonderful nutshell. On both sides of the border.
Sure the Americans throw in some parades and their Thanksgiving seems to be the harbinger of the holiday season, but if we look at in another way—our holiday season is even longer, because we start sooner. The point See makes is that “as long as you celebrate, haul that whole family together, and break bread in some way”, Thanksgiving has been appropriately commemorated.
She also makes the very salient point that Thanksgiving is the beginning of the “eating season”—a time of year when she bakes herself “into a woman-sized shortbread cocoon” and spends “two and a half months eating (her) way out.”
I think that the majority of us love Thanksgiving with all the fixings. I would love Thanksgiving even more if I were not the one in charge of fixing it, but over the years I have learned a number of ways to make that part of the equation easier. At the advice of a friend, I now buy a turkey that needs neither days of thawing nor the stuffing of its interior. No handling an unwieldy bird for me (but now I have to find something new to complain about).
Thanksgiving is important for so many reasons—the food, the giving of thanks, the camaraderie, but most important is the first three words of that hymn written originally in 1597: “WE GATHER TOGETHER”.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good appetite.