Thanksgiving Day in the United States is celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November. I have very fond childhood memories of Thanksgiving. Like most school kids, we learned about the Pilgrims and “Indians” coming together, giving thanks and celebrating the harvest. We would make little turkey cut outs, with paper feathers and pilgrims type hats. We’d be out of school for Thursday, Thanksgiving Day and the following Friday. It was great!
My extended family of cousins, aunts, and uncles would get together, eat great soul food, perform a talent show, take naps, and watch sports. Is this sounding familiar to anyone? The best part was that family members would divide up the food and take leftovers that lasted for the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend.
Now that I’m living in Canada, those childhood memories seem to be ancient history. Canada’s Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October, designated to also celebrate the harvest and one’s good fortune of the year. My first Canadian Thanksgiving sneaked up on me suddenly. I had planned to come in for work, not realizing it was a holiday. My assistant had to reschedule my appointments and tell me not to come into the office.
So, I got a free day, but it didn’t quite feel like “Thanksgiving”. My family wasn’t able to all be together since my U.S. college student was not on Thanksgiving break. There was no four-day weekend and definitely no soul food to eat. I must confess that soul food like mustard greens, cornbread, fried chicken, mac & cheese (and I don’t mean the Kraft in the box kind), caramel cake, sweet potato pie, potato salad, candied yams, black-eye peas, fried turkey, cabbage, and cranberry sauce is not my specialty. Ok, I’m making myself hungry…
I assumed that after moving to Toronto, one of the most diverse cities in the world, I would have no problem finding a good, authentic soul food restaurant. So far, I’ve had no such luck. While there is so much variety here, my colleagues have told me that soul food places are hard to come by. Two weeks ago I went to Sweetie Pies in St. Louis, Missouri and had my fill of authentic soul food. Now I know what all the fuss is about with Sweetie Pies. It would sure be nice to ship some of those dishes to my neck of the woods.
Finally, in the States, Thanksgiving signals for me the holiday season, shopping, and “Black Friday”. It’s one of the few terms with “Black” that has a somewhat positive twist. “Black Friday” is the Friday after Thanksgiving Day whereby retailers who were “in the red” might turn a profit (thus getting “in the Black”). A similar day to get buyers into the stores is Canada’s Boxing Day. However, with so many Canadians going across the border to take advantage of those deals generated by “Black Friday”, it has now come to Canada!
Have you celebrated Thanksgiving in countries other than the United States? What was it like for you?
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