Growing up, I never really cared about Thanksgiving. It was simply a long weekend early in the school year when nothing had happened except the usual: I was still a nerd, still living in a small town, and still looking at another loooong ass year of trying to blend in and get through each school day relatively unscathed. Ugh.
Once I left home, however, Thanksgiving seemed to take on more meaning to me and I’m not really sure why. Nothing had changed. I guess for the first two years, it was the first weekend I had good food after six weeks of eating nothing but pasta and chopped carrots. But once I moved to Toronto, Thanksgiving was just the weekend I was less likely to make any decent money since nobody eats Thai/Mexican/Starbucks when they are celebrating the autumn season. The harvest holiday really took a real turn for the crap when I was living in Wolfvegas. Even further from family, and in one of the worst relationships of all time, I ultimately used Thanksgiving as simply an extra day to eat microwave curry and study for some inevitable midterm. Ugh again.
Still, I wanted it to be more. I wanted to celebrate autumn and pumpkins and sweaters. I wanted to immerse myself in this family holiday. Tricky business given that a) my immediate family lived a million miles away and b) they were divided up anyway. And truth be told, I didn’t want to go home – I wanted to go to some magical, tradition-drenched house full of home-cooked food and happy people. I craved togetherness and pie.
So when I met A., and we moved to O-town, I decided we were going to celebrate Thanksgiving, dammit. We were either finding people with good food and happy conversation or we were making it ourselves. And in the past seven years, we have been entirely successful. Some years we’ve found it – heading off to Hamilton for the best Thanksgiving celebrations of all times at my Aunt K’s (oh the food! oh the wine! oh the happy people!), or going to a wedding or two. And some years we’ve created our own – potlucks with friends when A. was away in K-town and again when I was too pregnant to stand and make turkeys. All in all, I’ve enjoyed every Thanksgiving since 2006 and it’s started to become a fantastic way for me to celebrate my favourite season, autumn.
Enter Thanksgiving 2013. I have my own little family of four now, but no other family close by. Seems silly to cook a turkey for just two adults, a 3 year old and a baby who will likely only eat the sweet potato. Our stuff hasn’t arrived, so I’m short all of my cookware. And decorations – Ewan and I made a few Thanksgiving turkey hands with some scrap paper, but all of my fall decor is in a box on a boat. The weather outside is all sun and summer – not a red or orange leaf in sight. And until this morning I was a little down about the whole thing. I’m trying to build small traditions for my kids, a task I think important given that we will likely move around a lot and I think it’s nice to have constants in chaos. But building traditions is hard when the materials are seemingly unavailable.
This morning, however, I decided to forge ahead. There will be cranberry sauce, dammit, and stuffing too. Sure, it’ll be roast chicken instead of turkey, but I don’t think Budsie likes turkey anyway. And there will be pie. And happy people, albeit only four of us (and likely only three – Figs is a real crankypants lately). And good conversation, first from a hilarious boy, and later with A. over second helpings of pie.
I don’t really feel the autumn and pumpkins and sweaters holiday here. Frankly, it’s hard to get in the spirit of any holiday that’s weather based when one lives in a country where it’s beach season every day. But I am starting to feel at home, and, after years of practice, I feel capable now of creating a sense of togetherness and happiness and holiday cheer for myself, my kids and my husband, regardless of where we are.
Plus, I can make a damn good pumpkin pie.