Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Americans

I know that I am Canadian. And I know that the November Thanksgiving holiday is for the Americans.

I know.

But I still like it. Although I am not certain that I like it better than ours.

The Canadian Thanksgiving is held in early-mid October. It usually sneaks up on me when I am not expecting it. It is supposed to occur just after the final Canadian harvest is reaped from the land.

It is generally a Sunday holiday and inherits some of the general attributes of a Sunday.

The American Thanksgiving is of course on what I thought was the last Thursday of November. It also celebrates a successful harvest. I think I like that it is held on a Thursday much better, as it gives the feel of a day off that you should be working – adding yet one more thing to be thankful for.

And while they are at it, they take the Friday off too!

You can’t knock that, can you?

Both are similar – both traditionally expect turkey dinners with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and cranberries. Both are meals completed with pecan, pumpkin or apple pies for desert.

The difference is however that in Canada we are inundated by the American media reminding us that they get this great holiday, while for us, it is just another work week.

We actually suffer from “American Thanksgiving Day Envy”. And we might be a tad bitter.

Both events are fall events. The Canadian event has the color of the leaves in the trees. The daylight lasts longer, and often I have even played golf on Canadian Thanksgiving day.

The American Thanksgiving day has the mythology of Pilgrims – Quakers for the most part – celebrating with their new native friends they mistakenly dubbed to be “Indians”. I have always wondered why the NFL did not insist the Patriots play the Redskins on this holiday.

Perhaps it was discussed and dismissed as “too predictable”.

On the topic of football, it is traditional on Canadian Thanksgiving to actually watch a Canadian Football League game. It used to be that you could watch Ottawa vs. Saskatchewan - the Rough Riders vs. the Roughriders. Ottawa vs. Saskatchewan. But Ottawa dropped their team recently – so the games are usually the Alouettes vs. the Argonauts.

It's even funner to watch it on the RCO - the French-Canadian side of the CBC.

My daughters bring home a ton of “crafts” from school every day. Things they have colored, cut out, pasted together, and present to their Mother and I as artwork worthy of precious fridge door space.

I noticed this year at Thanksgiving time they brought home construction paper and tape versions of Pilgrim hats. I asked them both to ask their teachers how many Pilgrims ever migrated to Canada. They did – eventually – from Dutch Pennsylvania – our family was part of that migration - but I don’t think they were still known as Pilgrims.

I think it must be cheaper for the Canadian primary schools (elementary schools) to use left over American artwork rather than make our own.

How many maple leafs can you color anyway?

In any case, the underlying foundation of both versions of Thanksgiving is to be thankful.

In the Canadian sense, thankful that the harvest was successful and there is food enough for the 6 months of winter. Thankful you won’t starve.

The American sense is to be thankful for being American, and to get a jump start on your Christmas shopping on that Friday you have off as well. Oh yeah, and all that stuff about family and friends.


Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and loved ones. We in Canada are thankful that you are still thankful. As long as you’re content, we know you won’t be invading us.

I will be thinking of you as I sit at my desk pounding out work this Thursday and Friday.

And to those of you Americans who have me on your gift list this Christmas, I am now a 38 waist with a 30 inseam.

Yes, I have put on a little weight.

I think it all started last October on our Thanksgiving day.

1 comment:

Chris in Oxford said...

Great post! I found it while feeling a little homesick on Thanksgiving as an expat.

"As long as you’re content, we know you won’t be invading us."

That's a great line. Happy (American) Thanksgiving!

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