Canadian Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is a virtually non-commercialized festivity that involves only two things: people I love and food! Today Maggie, Jorge and I spent all day prepping for the feast I’ll cook for tomorrow’s lunch. We shopped, chopped… sliced, diced… stuffed, fluffed… fluted, diluted… (That’s enough already!)
We’ll have turkey and all the trimmings and we’ll talk about all the good Thanksgivings past… we’ll toast Carlos and Jeanette with the champagne that they left us.
When I was 14, my mother was pregnant with her 8th child. He would be born in December, so by early October, she felt weary. About a week before Thanksgiving she said, “I don’t think I’ll be able to fix the turkey this year; I’m just too tired.” The seven of us kids, and my dad stared open-mouthed – no turkey dinner for Thanksgiving! “Not to worry,” said Dad, “I’ll make something.” Now, my dad was a great Sunday morning breakfast cook; he could use the bar-b-que very well… but we figured a turkey was just a tad past his level of expertise. “We’ll all help you Dad,” offered one of my brothers on behalf of us all.
My father went shopping; he bought the bird, all the trimmings and then some… As he unloaded the bags, I thought it looked like a huge amount of ingredients. How would all this come together? (Years later I would see the movie, “Babette’s Feast” and be reminded of all those groceries!)
Thanksgiving morning, Dad suggested that Mom stay in bed. She did so gratefully. He produced crepe paper, construction paper, glitter, scissors, tape. “Anne, Barb, Cathy – you three are in charge of the decorations. I want to see the whole dining room covered with turkeys, maple leaves, and pumpkins… My 8, 6 and 4 year old sisters got right to work. “Peter, Steve and Tom, you go outside and get the yard all spruced up!” Joany… you’ll be my assistant!
Boy, did we work – all of us. And the dinner we put together was fit for a queen – that’s how we thought of Mom. When she arrived at table, she looked so happy to see her seven children all dressed in Sunday best, Dad in his dress suit, a creatively decorated dining room, and a table groaning with delicious food. We all agreed we had a lot to be grateful for… and that Thanksgiving, our generous papa rated top of the list.
John was born on December 27th. Mom called me, “Alpha” and him, “Omega.” We all welcomed him into our family. Mom and Dad taught us there’s always room for one more. Dad died when John had barely turned 14, the age I was when we cooked that dinner together. It seems such a shame that both our parents went young; our brother Tom, left us younger still. But we have the memories, and like me, I’m sure the others will remember Thanksgiving 1966 when they sit down with their own families tomorrow.
Happy Thanksgiving Day, Mom, Dad, Peter, Stephen, Tom, Anne, Barb, Cathy and John – my love to you all, wherever you are!