Our American neighbours to the south celebrate their Thanksgiving holiday today …
Thanksgiving gratitude is more than a meal.
Unless you don’t have one.
Then gratitude won’t save you from starving.
On the other hand, if you can save someone from starving, they will be grateful beyond measure.
We’ve already had our Thanksgiving in Canada – and in Britain too; we get to see this autumnal ritual through our own eyes on our day and through TV-media eyes when our neighbours do parades, football and Black Friday ads ad nauseam – so we are thankful for friends, neighbours. We cannot help but be amazed at what we see.
Our countries are attached completely.
The division is a line on a map, not a division in a physical sense – but we are living under wildly different versions of democracy and civility, both once British colonies whose language we speak variations of, and we each call our currency a dollar, and that is where our sameness gives way to countless distinctive traits.
To our American friends, we are thankful for being our largest trading partner, our most popular destination, and supplier to us of entertaining (and sometimes scary) political theatre.
We are amazed at your power, influence and political malaise; we are disgusted by many things, appalled at your gun-totin’ culture, and your bullies with pulpits. Some people see you as the world’s policeman, while many see us as the world’s best peacekeepers. Our countries stand strong and proud in different ways, and we will continue to fight respectfully for our citizens and be empathetic about each other’s tragedies.
And we are thankful for so many things that are proudly and uniquely Canadian – many of which you don’t know from our cultures, not just on this day, but every day. I am thankful for my country, but I’d like warmer weather, but maybe global warming will help.
While parts of the world are rife with poverty, disease, bloodshed, ruin and endless bleakness – I am thankful our ancestors left old-world homes behind for better lives here. While we have lots of troubles in our backyard, they are small compared to what others are experiencing, not just today, in far-reaching corners of the world.
Most of us don’t pause first thing each morning to give gratitude – most save it for days like today that society and Hallmark dedicate as ‘days for being thankful.’ When I wake up on any given morning, I am grateful to wake up to another day, another chance to make life better – not merely survive, but better for me, my family, my country, and my neighbour.
So, are we grateful for reality – our own, or are we happy to ‘have a holiday, some turkey, a gathering and some laughs’ for the sake of having one, or are we just ‘societies going through the motions’?
I remember, when I was growing up, every fall around thanksgiving time, my parents would take a drive in the country (I was raised in a small city in the middle of a farming area) to some ‘community hall’ – we would attend a fowl supper.
There would be lots of turkey, chicken, and goose and every kind of vegetable dish and pie you could imagine. Everything from the ‘horn of plenty,’ cooked up by farm wives with big grins and massive aprons – steaming hot food, lots of conversation noise and an atmosphere of satisfaction and gratitude, of appreciation of another harvest. They had grain in the bin and jars of preserves to last the winter. We went back to our home in the city, my dad to his job, my mom to her kitchen and I back to school – our thanks-needs satisfied for another year.
I don’t need to go for a drive in search of a meal – I just need to close my eyes and remember that scene, enjoying it over and over in my mind, and I’m glad for that experience.
A year from now, what will we be thankful for that we can’t celebrate today?
It should be more than another year of surviving and thriving when others are not. I hope, a year from now, the citizens of Ukraine can be at peace again like they were a year ago. I hope our public discourse can shift back into a positive mode again, and we can be kinder and gentler to each other; that’s a wish I hope comes true.
We share so much, the 48th parallel, and always, we count on each other, as with any friend you count on, for consistency.