Monday, October 9, 2017

Thanksgiving In the City, Reflections . . .

Today is officially Canadian Thanksgiving (here's a fascinating article about the respective histories of the American and the Canadian feast, in light of the indigenous celebrations that preceded contact) but like many Canadians, our family gathered for turkey dinner yesterday -- a much more congenial timing for those who need to be back at work Tuesday morning, allowing a solid 36 hours to digest that bird and get the dishes and leftovers sorted, the carcass simmering into stock on the stove. . .
Fall colours throughout courtesy of a local Community Garden
 No turkey carcass simmering on our stove, though, nor will we be making up sandwiches for lunch today. All the leftovers, all the dirty dishes, were left behind at our daughter and son-in-law's place last night as we kissed all good-night and headed back home (walking a whole block to get here ;-) with the empty pie plates (my contribution to the feast: two pumpkin, one apple) and a high chair.
My daughter and son-in-law had expanded their mid-century table to seat ten of us comfortably, but just as we were getting ready to sit down, the two-year-old wondered, just a bit imperiously, where his high chair was. Our hosts don't have a high chair anymore, but Nana and Granddad do, and I offered to pop home for ours against protests that we could easily manage without. I persisted (it just makes everything so much easier to corral the little guy, and he likes to be at a comfortable height to join the conversation), and Granddad decided he'd come help. Next thing we knew, three short people were at the door putting on their shoes, ready for an expedition.
 Almost-Five stepped into the October evening in her sleeveless dress, threw her arms back as she looked up at the sky, and exclaimed "It's night-time. I love walking in the night!"
 Two scarcely-trafficked crossings to make at one intersection, then less than a full city block, total, and one of the Littles grabbed the keys to scan our way in, another scampered through the door first to push the elevator button. City kids. They loved visiting us on the island, running on its dirt roads, clambering on its beaches, and I loved showing them that differently paced lifestyle.
But over this last year of living so near to two of our kids' families, here in the city, we've come to see more fully the wealth that urban life offers them, the competencies they're developing, the innocences they nonetheless are able to hold onto. 
 Inside our condo, we stopped the Two from taking off his shoes (he'd plonked onto the floor immediately to pull at them). The Almost-Five spotted the thermos they'd left behind last weekend, reminding me that I also wanted to return leggings and a pair of pink socks, similarly abandoned. Paul scooped up the highchair, and we all headed back out.

We reversed our short route via elevator and dark city sidewalk, crossing streets lit from above, the Two in my arms for a moment, pointing up to the dark sky, marvelling to me that it was night, his enthusiasm no less than his sister's for all its belatedness. All that October night-air magically crisp around us, and back inside, another elevator, to settle ourselves around the table, happily passing bowl after bowl around, serving spoons clanking, decisions about white or dark meat or both, and murmurs of "Please pass the . . . ." My dad's traditional turkey stuffing, which I've been improvising around for more than forty years, was missing, replaced by the apparently more contemporary (and safe, the kids tell us, not finding  the greasy glories of seasoned bread cooked inside a bird worth the risk of food poisoning) oven-baked dressing.

Missing, but not missed, really. I'll admit I would have loved to have two more families at that table, have our whole crew together again. But otherwise, the feast gathered up all that was important from so many earlier Thanksgivings. It was an evening for gratitude, for appreciating what we have so close by.

This morning, the gratitude continues, extended into a reflection on our first year living here in the city. So many changes made to get here, and some still to make as we continue adjusting. I'm hoping to write a bit about that here over the next while, and I'm wondering if any of you have anything you're particularly curious about concerning the process of downsizing, of uprooting from one community to another at this stage of life, of retiring, or whatever. I can't promise I'll answer them all right away, but I'll be happy to try in future posts.

And before I sign off, here's a Back to the Future moment for you, a post from 2007, my first blogging year, and it seems we've done urban, non-traditional Thanksgivings before. . . .

Happy Thanksgiving! Feel free to share whatever you're feeling grateful for today, whether you celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving or not. Never too much gratitude, right? 



26 comments:

  1. How times have changed! We went to my sister's yesterday for the traditional dinner. Monsieur and I enjoyed many getaway Thanksgivings when we were working. I loved the golden colours of the Methow Valley (our favourite together place) and Brian loved to hike. As time goes by, my Mum especially wants her 4 children and their families together (almost impossible) so we tend to stay home for celebrations and to plan our escapes at other times. Our church welcomed a Syrian family yesterday. After being separated for several years, this family has been reunited and are beginning life in Canada. They were such thankful people. They provided music and food after the church service.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I'd like to find a place like your Methow Valley (possibly the Okanagan or the Kootenays) to get away to this time of year, fall colours and hiking and all that. I can see why you'd want to stay close for your Mom now -- you're lucky to have her still.
      And what an opportunity to share in such a positive experience as that of your Syrian family! I bought Syrian pastries from a sidewalk stand the other day, and the gentleman (about my age, limited English) whose wife had made the goodies was so grateful to me for buying them.

      Delete
  2. Happy Thanksgiving! We enjoy our dinner on Sunday, too, for the same reasons you listed. Today is, as a result, relaxing. We just got back from dropping off the Vancouver contingent at the ferry and I'm enjoying the sunshine streaming in the windows.
    I can just imagine the eagerness of those Littles and their enchantment with walking in the night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you had a restful Monday, basking in memories of your family meal and enjoying the peace and quiet while noshing on turkey sandwiches -- I'm guessing you're back, hard at work, today. . .

      Delete
  3. Happy Thanksgiving. What a lovely picture you painted of it. It is a celebration we don't have over here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's one of my favourites, Givi, because it's so much less commercialized, the focus simply on eating well, together, and being grateful.

      Delete
  4. As I read about your yesterday-feast my pies are cooling on the counter - a Bourbon Apple and a Chocolate Pecan. We will be joining our SIL's family for Thanksgiving dinner this evening.
    The temptation to look back at our past Thanksgiving celebrations is strong, but I am resisting. I will focus on all the good of the past year and the change that has made all of us grow and taught us that sometimes what we can be thankful for is just 'being'. It is a gorgeous day here on the Island and I have managed a little digging in the beds as well as pie-baking......and for all of that, I am thankful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my goodness, that's mouth-watering, just the names of those pies! I'm sure they were very well appreciated.
      I think there are probably times when it's best not to look back and times when it's reassuring to. I have so many happy memories of past Thanksgivings, stretching right back to childhood, and the changes are inevitable, if sometimes challenging. Being thankful, and just being, as you say, is probably the best approach. Especially if you can sneak in a little gardening and pie-baking. . .

      Delete
  5. The magic of night walks.....when our kids were little I loved to get them out when the moon was full for a pre-bedtime or even bed time delaying short walk, and on one magical occasion for a sledding expedition - the decision was made after they were in PJs and we went up one neighborhood hill and down another - they must have been about 1 and 5, but that particular full moon expedition comes up occasionally in their conversation so it was clearly worth doing.

    I've been watching your move and transition with great interest - not practical for us yet but we have lots of "what if..." conversations!

    Happy Thanksgiving - the earlier in the year timing seems so much nicer than our late November celebration.

    ceci

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the image I now have of that night-time sledding. We once did a walk in deep hoar-frost at night, similarly magical, but without the thrill of the downhill. . .
      I can see there's something appealing in your later celebration to launch those festivities that distance us from the winter's dark. I love our Thanksgiving, though, for being a gentler transition, an acceptance and celebration of fall's comforts. Lower-key, I think, too, and not so often dressed-up for, at least not in my circles. . . Even the fact that many of us have the meal on Sunday, others on Monday, suggests the casual factor that doesn't at all diminish the significance. . .

      Delete
  6. Happy Thanksgiving. You're oh so lucky to live near your grandchildren, even if it's not all of them. You're only a block away. Give thanks for that. How did we all make it through our stuffing cooked in the turkey? So many things have changed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am very lucky, although that one in Rome pulls plangently on my heartstrings, especially at such times. . . .
      And I do give thanks for the proximity. . .
      (as for the stuffing, I sometimes think we built constitutions through surviving all those evil bacteria! ;-)

      Delete
    2. You sent me to the dictionary to understand "plangently." I understand how you feel. You're right. How did we all make it through the stuffing in the turkey years. How about the years before seat belts for the kids in the back seat?

      Delete
  7. That was a lovely read Frances . There's so much in the media about disfunctional families & it's good to be reminded of all the ' ordinary ' families quietly doing things the right way with happy children . I love the warm autumn light in your photos too .
    Wendy in York

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Wendy. It's a lovely time of the year, isn't it?

      Delete
  8. What a happy post summing up all that you have to be thankful for. I can only imagine the fun you had:) Much as you miss your old home it sounds like the family compensations more than make up for the move. The very essence of thanksgiving. B x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, B. As you say, missing the old is compensated for by the family closeness. . .

      Delete
  9. This is not fair, Frances - so many offshoots to explore from this post: US and Canadian Thanksgivings, your early blog posts...and here I am reading quickly over breakfast before heading out to a working day in my new career. But just to say that I'm sure that your wee people will remember their adventure through the night-time city (perhaps not the Two, but who knows?)) all their lives, and it will become a cherished "remember when?".
    As you know, we don't have a Thanksgiving. The two week stretch of Christmas and Hogmanay are quite enough in terms of huge meals! Burns' Night also does its bit for a big meat/carbs/whisky onslaught.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congratulations again on graduation from your program preparing you for a whole 'nother career -- what an inspiration you are embarking on that now.
      May I say how much I envy you and your culture the word "hogmanay"? Can't say I'd trade our T'giving for it, but it's a big draw (so much more than is haggis. . . just sayin. . .

      Delete
  10. Your family dinner sounds perfect. Can you tell us what drove your decision to downsize, sell, and move to the city?
    City living vs. rural/seaside living is quite opposite. I have not downsized, but do think about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've written about this decision and some of the ensuing process in several posts tagged #moving, but this one in particular (and the one preceding it and linked in the post) might give you an idea: http://materfamiliasknits.blogspot.ca/2016/05/how-we-got-here-why-were-leaving-part.html

      Delete
  11. You are really blessed with your beautiful family,Frances! It is a pure joy to read about your adventures
    From my point of view,your move to the city,despite a few disadvantages, was a right decision in so many ways( like your night walk :-)),so,I'm looking forward to your fresh reflection
    As you know,we don't have Thanksgiving,but roasted turkey (or duck) is one of our traditional Christmas dishes.
    We had to change a lot of family traditions, because till 1991. Christmas and other church holidays were regular work days (and I could not imagine now, how we did everything,from the dinner to the Christmas tree,wraping gifts and having family and friends together,but we managed everything). Some traditions are to keep,some we make different for us and our family and both are welcomed
    Dottoressa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to agree that it's been a good decision, and even the inevitable regrets begin to face now that we're through a year.
      I can scarcely imagine how you all managed to keep that Christmas tradition alive through those difficult years, but I suspect that you really learned what was most important. . .

      Delete
  12. Funnily enough, I had read that same piece about comparing Thanksgivings just the night before I read this. I wasn't aware Canada had Thanksgiving celebrations so it was most interesting. Seems a good time of year for feasting on the year's bounty prior to the hunkering season. It sounds like a blissful day (and evening) all round. And, of course, the glory of leftovers. Always so very, very delicious..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suspect all tribal peoples (and at some point, we are all tribal people, as First Nations writer Richard Wagamese used to say, through his characters) had Thanksgiving feasts. . . . although they may not have had day-after turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce ;-)

      Delete
  13. So very beautiful Frances, The wonder of the little ones on an adventure.

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...