I love Thanksgiving. No gift-buying obligations, and, except for occasionally emptying the dish drain, I do not have to do anything. I just watch football and eat till I bust. A voluble host, till the tryptophan kicks in.
Growing up in Canada, I never experienced Thanksgiving. Which, retrospectively seems mysterious. Canada actually celebrates Thanksgiving. I just didn’t know about it.
As a kid, I never wondered about the absence of Thanksgiving. It made sense not to have that holiday. My “home and native land” has no tradition of pilgrims, nor of Indians teaching us to grow corn. What traditions do we have?
I am sitting here, and I’m at a total loss.
Canadian traditions. Hm.
And pushing the car in front of you out of a snowdrift.
Canada has a different history than America, missing the exciting, but also the terrible. Canada didn’t have slavery. Not because we were morally superior. We just didn’t have cotton.
Anyway, I lived my early life, oblivious to the institution of Canadian Thanksgiving. Then, by sheer happenstance, I was visiting (Canadian) Martin Short’s house – for a reading of a script I had written that he had invited Catherine O’Hara to participate in. Passing through the kitchen, being olfactorily bombarded by magnificent cooking smells, I inquired, “Is there a special occasion?” To which I was told:
I was considerably taken aback. The two words together sounded incomprehensible to me – like Nigerian ice-hockey. I was at that point in my life – my early to mid forties – and up till then, I had no idea that Canadian Thanksgiving even existed.
But it does, falling annually on the second Monday of October, the day Americans celebrate Columbus Day. (Unless Canadians celebrate Columbus Day too, and I did not know about that either.)
I started to think. Why did these ex-patriot Canadians know about Canadian Thanksgiving and I didn’t? What was the difference – besides our comparative talent levels – between Martin Short and myself?
Well, there is always the “Old Reliable.”
Jewish and not Jewish. (Me, if there is any confusion – and I cannot imagine that possibility – being the former.)
Could that actually be the answer? I mean, I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood, attended, till I was thirteen, the Toronto Hebrew Day School, and spent summers at a predominantly Jewish camp. I lived in a proverbial “Jew Bubble.”
And within that bubble, I had heard no mention whatsoever of Canadian Thanksgiving.
Could it be possible that the Christians celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving and just never told us about it?
“Close the curtains, Martha. We’re keeping it from the Jews.”
That is way too conspiratorial. And yet, I have no justifiable explanation as to why Martin Short knew about and away from his homeland continued to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving, while I was entirely in the dark.
I got it now. And I love it. Possibly even more so because, accidentally or otherwise, I was deprived of celebrating Thanksgiving growing up.
There are countries in the world that don’t have Thanksgiving. There are (or there is at least one) that does, but not everybody knows about it. We have it here. And everybody knows about it. So if you are rooting around for something to be thankful about…
A holiday for everyone.