Thanksgiving Day is Coming
Canadians are about to participate in a holiday that originally celebrated gratitude for the magnificent harvest our farmer fields offered. This was an obvious recognition of Nature and it’s importance to our survival. As the rural landscape slowly shifted to a more urban look, the rituals of demonstrative gratefulness eroded. Family pictures were replaced by selfies, family dinners morphed into take out meals consumed on the ride home, and ultimately we created a situation where expressing gratitude and appreciation was considered a weakness so severe, we all got MBAs to remind ourselves that greed is good.
Now that first paragraph seems a little coarse, fortunately it was only written to get your attention as you prepare to get together with your family members who could use the occasional kind word because we are all as dealing with stuff. Cynical pundits will use gross exaggerations to imply human beings are more self-centered today than before, but I do not believe this to be true. Besides the idea of celebrating a holiday called ThanksTaking, is hopefully far less appealing to most.
A wise boss of mine said. “The world is divided by givers and takers”. The problem with this theory is we all think we are givers and we believe the rest of the world are the takers. In my brief experience here, we are all a little of both. The issue is new norms tend to reward taking much more than giving. I blame the industrial revolution for this one. When agriculture loses to business in a consumerism world where the quality of what you wear, trumps the quality of what you eat, we have a lot of splaining to do. (I promise that will be my only reference to trump here.)
This give and take dilemma is far more noticeable in the country just slightly south of Canada.
Our friends south of our border, and even our enemies south of our border, delay this Thanksgiving celebration for another month. One must applaud their restraint with this difficult delayed gratification strategy. The patience is rewarded by a day of giving and gratitude, immediately followed by the biggest day of taking in the year. Fights and arguments displayed on every Black Friday over some scarce toy, beautifully contradict the sentiment of gratefulness sincerely displayed mere hours before. I say hours here because many malls open at 1:00 a.m. on Black Friday to reduce the long line ups where more fighting can occur.
My limited understanding of North American history suggests the Pilgrims arrived in a 1928 Chrysler Plymouth, looking for a more hip clothing store, so they didn’t look so out of date with that Pilgrim look. Unfortunately because it was Thanksgiving, all the stores were closed, except for the Starbucks. The Pilgrims conceded that their outdated clothing still looked far better than the uniforms the Starbuck’s employees are forced to wear.
Many family get togethers are wrought with emotional undercurrents. Pain and loss often duel with joy and kindness on long family weekends, as my children recently explained. University students endure a different celebration that occurs during this long weekend. 87.4% of girlfriend \ boyfriend relationships end during the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. It might be the stress of midterms, it may be the difficulty in long distance relationships, but most probably it is caused by over consumption of cranberries. Whatever the reason, romantic high school relationships tend to abruptly end with our young adults in early October with a ceremony they refer to as the turkey dump. Love is cruel.
All of this rambling is trying to get to a point. I appreciate that rarely occurs with my weekly interruptions, but that never stops me from trying! But first a little more rambling.
Since I was a wee child our family was taught to sing to song on every Thanksgiving Day. All the children, dressed in their Sunday best clothes, were forced to stand in the middle of a large family populated room and warble out this little ditty to the grateful older adults. I am not sure if this gratitude was because of the undeniable cuteness of the presentation, or just the fact that all our family gatherings rarely included a cash bar.
Thanksgiving day is coming, so Mr. Turkey said,
How very carful I must be or I will lose my head.
The pumpkin heard the turkey, I’m frightened me oh my.
They’ll mix me up with sugar and spice and I’ll be a pumpkin pie.
The laughter and applause that followed the children’s performance was intoxicating. Many times the children insisted on singing this again. We all like to be appreciated for what we do. On Monday, the now fifty year old children will all be singing this one more time, because the grandchildren rightfully refuse to sing this song, as it clearly has an undanceable beat .
Back to the Thanksgiving day celebration this weekend. Once the turkey is carved people tend to define themselves by the colour of meat they prefer. White meat and dark meat are the choices. I much prefer white meat, but I want to make it clear, “Dark Meat Matters” too and I mean no disrespect when I pile my plate with this more paler choice. I struggle not to judge people by their meat choice, however I do speak ill of those who hog all the gravy.
I mentioned I was trying to make a point earlier, and I will abandon my tendency to use irony or subtlety here. I suggest that perhaps this Thanksgiving, we attempt to use the word “Thanks” well over two times when speaking to our family and friends, as that word could help with all’s enjoyment of the day. Not only do little singing children thrive on appreciation, I believe older adults also enjoy that feeling. Whittled down, we can conclude Thanksgiving might be a day of Givingthanks if we are open to reversing the order of the words.
On the last song of the last album by The Beatles titled Abbey Road, Paul chanted, “and in the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take.” Beatle fans will argue “Her Majesty” Is the last song on Abbey Road, as people often prefer to prove they are right, than prove they are kind. Well you are right, but that song won’t help with my ending here. I believe Mr. McCartney meant to say the love you give surpasses the love you take, but since the Beatles weren’t very good songwriters, they forced the rhyme here with “make” and “take”, I suspect Ringo suggested this to be a better line after his only drum solo, but he was more than likely delirious from exhaustion. I forgive the band for this unfortunate poetic choice. Speaking of forgiving, that little act of forgiving others before attending the family dinner, will only improve your grateful interactions with family members on Monday.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, except my neighbour who keeps parking his boat trailer on part of my front lawn.
Cue the Blong: I have officially become my parents today. Sentimentality and longing for the good old days seems the new right of passage into older adulthood.