ITS THANKSGIVING HERE IN CANADA (HERE’S HOPING YOU A HAPPY ONE, BY THE WAY) AND GUEST WRITER CAROL DUNN SHARES A FEW
INTERESTING THOUGHTS ON HER FIRST THANKSGIVING HERE IN FIVE YEARS
Thanksgiving is a longstanding tradition in Canada. Every year on the second Monday of October, people join their families to celebrate the harvest. It is a day for reflection upon the year and giving thanks for all you have and for all the good that the year has given you. This is the perception that we have of Thanksgiving. It is the traditional image of the holiday that we still hold dear however no longer live by. Thanksgiving has merely become just another long weekend, however with a delicious twist. The vernacular of the day has even changed to reflect this shift. You would be hard pressed to hear a sincere ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ nowadays. These words seem to be limited to greeting cards and sale signs. They have steadily been replaced with the gluttonous greeting of ‘Happy Turkey Day’. In this new greeting we can see the emerging face of today’s Thanksgiving.
Turkey! This is the image of Thanksgiving. It was my image of Thanksgiving for years. As soon as October began, I started to look forward to the day when I would get to have a nice turkey dinner with all the fixings on the side and a delicious pumpkin pie for dessert and if I was really ambitious, a slice of apple pie too. I would even become giddy at the thought of left over turkey. My mother always bought an extra large bird just so we could have turkey sandwiches, hot and cold, for the rest of the week. I still have images of my various family members sprawled out on the couch and in chairs after dinner suffering from overeating and in a turkey induced comma. This was my Thanksgiving and several of my friends experienced and continue to have the exact same holiday. What exactly are we thankful for? Well, the answer is simple. We are thankful for turkey.
This will be my first Thanksgiving home since I left five years ago. As I watch my family scramble around to get all the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner I can see that nothing has really changed and I expect it will be the same this year as it was before. However, there is one difference of note and that has to do with me. A lot has changed for me in the five years I have been gone and one of the largest changes is with my eating habits. I am now a vegan. I eat nothing from an animal: no meat, no eggs, and no dairy. This is a lifestyle choice that I have made and that my family supports, even if they don’t quite understand it.
As my first Thanksgiving in five years fast approaches I find myself re-examining what the holiday actually means to me. Of course, it no longer means turkey. The thought of saying ‘Happy Turkey Day’ now seems a bit strange and ‘Happy Tofurkey Day’ just seems ridiculous. So I have gone back to ‘Happy Thanksgiving’. This has caused me to ask myself, what is Thanksgiving if it’s no longer turkey? I find myself looking to the traditional idea of Thanksgiving and the name itself. The day is for giving thanks; to be thankful for what you have, what you have gotten, and what you will get. This idea means more to me than the turkey ever did. Don’t get me wrong, I am still looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner, even though the turkey no longer interests me and I can’t eat most of the other dishes because they have some form of dairy in them. Instead, what I’m looking forward to most is spending some quality time with my family and friends, who I am truly thankful for.
My veganism has led me back to the true meaning of Thanksgiving for me, which was once hidden behind the turkey. I think everyone could do with stepping back from the turkey (or the tofurkey), if only for a second, and re-examining what Thanksgiving means to them and what they are truly thankful for.