Giving thanks for Canada

Thanksgiving: The re-enactment of the harvest feast celebrated by the Pilgrims who came over on the Mayflower. Does that make the holiday exclusive to America?

Not precisely. The Pilgrims weren’t exactly citizens of the U.S.A.. And Thanksgiving, with turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie, is a concept we share with the Canadians, who are quick to remind us they are not part of the U.S.A. either.

Of course, today, while we were cooking and eating and catching up with family, the Canadians were working, business as usual. That’s because they had their big family feast last month.

Canadian Thanksgiving is a three-day weekend, the second Monday in October. One woman told us her family always has their big dinner on Sunday, after the Thanksgiving church service. Her husband’s family — atheists — does the meal on Monday, making it possible for the couple to enjoy both.

I searched the Internet for menus, certain that an authentic Canadian Thanksgiving dinner would feature a different menu. But what I found was more familiar to me than last year’s Thanksgiving in New Orleans, where I discovered merliton stuffing.

The Canadian Thanksgiving feast we shared with our friend Kris in Lunenburg was a little smaller than the one we made today. We cooked outdoors, so I guess you could say the kitchen was actually bigger than Barry’s Mom’s (which is the largest kitchen I’ve ever cooked in!). But we only had a two-burner propane stove and a cooler. No fridge, freezer, food-processor, or bread machine. Instead of a 22-pound turkey, we stuffed a huge Hubbard squash. Instead of four desserts, we had just one. I still managed to include sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gravy.

The view of the bay was just as lovely as it is here, and we had good weather that day. With plenty of Screech — Newfoundland rum — on hand, it was a very festive holiday, despite our rustic surroundings.

Next year, I think I just might celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving again, even if I’m not in Canada. Not because I feel like enjoying two days of gluttony instead of one. I’d just like to spend some time giving thanks for our kindly, quirky neighbors, the Canadians.