In my home growing up, Thanksgiving has always been an event. Annual congregations around a table that has fluctuated in length, but invariably stretched through the dining room and across the hallway. Leaves extend the great wooden table like an accordion, depending on the rotating roster of absentees and plus-ones. A ragtag collection of seats are unearthed and dusted off: folding chairs, wooden chairs, and on occasion a piano bench to host a pair of posteriors.
The menu rarely if ever changes. Auntie Cathy brings Brussels sprouts tossed with olives, nuts, and caramelized onions. Donna makes saccharine sweet potatoes saturated in a heart-palpitating mixture of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Gary keeps vigil over the turkey, making slight adjustments and taking conscientious notes each year to track failures and successes. There’s succulent stuffing, smooth mashed potatoes, gobs of gravy, and pumpkin pie smothered in whorls of whipped cream. It is a feast in the truest sense of the word. The night ends with big bellies, crumpled paper napkins, and plates licked clean. Yawns are stifled as a box of Purdy’s chocolate makes a slow circuit round and round the table.
Please don’t get me wrong, Thanksgiving is hugely problematic. My memories are fond and idyllic, but at its core, Thanksgiving is a celebration of colonization and cultural devastation. It might be masked by plates piled high with a bounty of food, but that reality, that history is there. Let’s not forget it.
On a personal level, Thanksgiving is a potent family tradition. Family and friends who I only see a handful of times a year all gather to break bread, without fail. It’s not truly fall for me until my parents’ table is a resplendent rainbow of cranberry, orange, burnt sienna, and golden yellow.
I am thankful for these meals, for these precious memories. So, I’d like to take a quick moment to count my blessings.
- I’m grateful for family, especially my mom, dad, and brother.
- I’m grateful for my partner in life, love, and lease.
- I’m grateful for my wonderful friends.
- I’m grateful for coffee, tea, and whitening toothpaste to (somewhat) counterbalance the former two’s effects.
- I’m grateful for stacks of books and days spent fixed to the couch.
- I’m grateful for the roof over my head, the food in my fridge, and the fact that I can afford these necessities (and a few luxuries as well).
- I’m grateful for my dishwasher.
- I’m grateful for my body, and its ability to pack away a lot of delicious food at these Thanksgiving dinners.
- I’m grateful for my home, my city, my province. They have their issues, but I’m fortunate to live where I do.
- I’m grateful for the ocean, the mountains, and the miles in between.