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Please change American Thanksgiving!

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 “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others.  And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

– Edward Winslow, Mourt’s Relation (modern spelling), 1621

 I’ve been reading quite a bit in the blogshpere about this past Thanksgiving weekend and I have an important announcement to all my American friends south of the border:  You have it all wrong! 

I’m making a pitch to change US Thanksgiving. You have got to start petitioning your lawmakers to change this statutory holiday to a Monday from its current calendar position on a Thursday.  See, usually it’s Americans who think we Canadians should concede and go along with US majority.  Can I tell you how many times I am asked, why don’t you guys just celebrate Thanksgiving in November, like we do?  Or, why don’t you guys just use the same currency as we do?  Or best yet, why don’t you guys celebrate the 4th of July?  So indulge me briefly as I turn it back to Americans this time.  Of all the US statutory holidays, Thanksgiving is one of two holidays which does NOT fall on a Monday, therefore not guaranteeing y’all (you + all = y’all, right? I’m still fuzzy on this contraction) a long weekend.  Why is that?  

 The American Thanksgiving statutory holiday is on a Thursday and while many have the Friday off, it is not technically a statutory holiday, so many are expected back at work on Friday.  More than likely they are still enduring their self-induced food coma.  My first thought is to those suffering poor souls that work in retail … after they have their loving family gathering, they have to go head right over to their minimum wage retail job at midnight and deal with the throng of shoppers delighting in long lines and minimal stock.  Isn’t that like visiting your mother-in-law with a debilitating hangover?

To be fair, I haven’t done detailed research on the history of the calendar placement of this American holiday, but do you think the Pilgrims really did gather on a Thursday to celebrate the harvest with the indigenous peoples?  Really?  I honestly don’t think Winslow had anything close to Black Friday shopping in mind when he penned the words ‘partakers of our plenty’.  I’m pretty sure he meant crushing grapes into wine, with those words.  Yes, that has to be it.  Pass my goblet, please.  

If Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on a Monday, the traditional holiday meal would take place on the Sunday evening before.  The holiday Monday would truly be one of rest, recuperation and of course thankfulness (or, yes possibly the busiest travel day of the year, but let’s not worry about that for a moment).  Best yet?  The stores would be closed on Thanksgiving Monday.  C.L.O.S.E.D!  No Black Monday shopping would even be possible, so we don’t have to awake to the viral images of pepper-sprayed Californians hoping to scoop an XBox deal, or an Arkansas woman’s bared butt as she loses touch with reality over a $2 waffle iron at Walmart (I actually did not these but heard about them on the radio on my way into work this morning!).  For the football fans, have no fears about Thanksgiving football.  The NFL could easily accommodate this change in holiday schedule given that Sunday afternoon and Monday evenings are already devoted to football… why not throw a real turkey around on Sunday too?

I’m not trying to initiate an international debate, I am only thinking of the best interests of our dear American neighbours, and believe that you should all return to work fully recuperated from the feast and food leftover orgy that is Thanksgiving…on both sides of the border!

I think this proposal warrants careful consideration.

What do you think?

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“Perfect” Thanksgiving Weekend 2011

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Yes indeed, this weekend would be Norman-Rockwell-picture-postcard-perfect.  I was looking forward to the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend with such bubbling enthusiasm that my poor siblings had to endure more than one email from me that began with “only # more sleeps!” until our reunion.  Imagine a vista where the slopes of the mountains were in their scorching splendour of furious reds, mellow yellows and vivid oranges, gentling protecting the beautiful Intrawest resort village of Mont Tremblant, Qc, Canada (about an hour north of Montreal).   Couple that venue with the crispness of a Fall morning that then gave way to uncharacteristically high daytime temperatures, transporting us all back into summertime mode (in fact, several heat records were broken on Sunday).  Then picture the cozy family campfire that transpired as the chilled night air returned.  Yes indeed, this weekend would be picture-postcard-perfect.

Perfect.

If you could take away the hike down the 875m mountain (2,871ft) on a trail called Le Bruler.  Translated, bruler means to burn, as in the knees, the quads, the calves, etc., as I quickly come to realize.

Perfect.

If you could take away that the younger generation effortlessly side-stepped shoe-sucking mud holes and gazelled from rock to rock.

Perfect.

If you could take away the image of the young father we passed heading down the mountain, while he was heading up with an infant in his front carrier and a toddler in his backpack carrier.  My sister couldn’t help muttering, “Show-off!” as she allowed him and his pre-school entourage to pass.

Perfect.

If you could take away the fact that the trail map suggested that Le Bruler was approximately a two-hour hike.  Never trust trail map approximations.  Three and a half hours later, I had made 2 frantic calls to my 74-year old mother back at base camp:  one to confirm we had acclimatized to the oxygen levels and were continuing our descent and one to coordinate lunch.

Perfect.

If you could take away the fact that due to this massive hiking expedition, Thanksgiving dinner took place at 10p – well passed the bedtimes of some of our younger guests (and mine, I might add)!

Perfect.

If you could take away the fact that the perfect homemade cranberry sauce (fresh cranberries, sugar, spices and a splash of Grand Marnier) never got served (but damn if that Grand Marnier didn’t go down good with 2k to go!).

Perfect.

If you discount the hydraulic patient hoist with which we all had to take turns the next morning to help us get out of bed, providing great inspiration to my niece aspiring to become a doctor (just not in geriatrics!).

Perfect.

If you could take away the unabated enthusiasm that surrounded the annual, traditional kids vs. parents football game.  Though my muscles begged for a forfeit, I endured my older brother’s Bluto-like soliloquy:  “’Over’? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!”  Alright, already (though I did manage to sneak off the field and participate as official photographer instead … laparoscopic surgery is postponed).

Perfect.

If you could take away the fact that the kids legitimately won and now hold bragging rights for an entire year.  And really!  Seriously.  What were we thinking?  They were all young teenage athletes, one of them playing high school varsity football!  There’ll be just no living with them, now (but wait!  I do need them to help me down these stairs!).

 

 

Perfect.

But really… would I really take away these little (ok, sometimes not so little) imperfections, entirely?  Approaching Martha Stewart standard, but never quite?  Will anyone actually remember these little blemishes?  Maybe.  But there are what makes us a family – and what moves us to make the effort to continue to gather annually from (presently) six different North American locations.  Maybe, not-so-perfect is a much better standard.

Yes, indeed this weekend was picture-postcard-almost-perfect.

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