Saturday, October 19, 2013

Thankful for Thanksgiving - Whenever it Is

If you are Canadian, by now you will have had your fill of turkey and stuffing from the Thanksgiving holiday. But for many, the busyness of life keeps everyone spinning and a holiday is not really a holiday anymore as many have to work. And so, in turn, many folks ‘do’ the great Thanksgiving feast on alternate days. Years ago, many started having Thanksgiving dinner on the Sunday before, as doing it all on the Monday before heading back to work on Tuesday was too onerous.

I, too, have fallen victim to the dinner-on-an-alternate day to cater to everyone’s schedules, including my own. It’s been like that for a few years now. But in trying to do it all at warp speed, at one point during the marathon weekend of prepping and cooking the great feast I couldn’t figure what day was Thanksgiving – Sunday or Monday? I/we have ‘done’ Thanksgiving on an alternate day for so many years I forgot which day Thanksgiving actually was.

I wasn’t ashamed of all the stuffing I consumed with fervour, but was ashamed to admit not knowing the actual holiday ‘day.’

I called my sister and she, too, wasn’t sure. ‘Google it!’ was her response.

And yes, I did actually ‘Google it.’ I couldn’t believe I actually had to ‘google’ the date of Thanksgiving, right in the midst of the celebrated holiday.

And in chatting with folks at grocery stores and such, many didn’t know, either. Some even went so far as to say, ‘Does it matter? We had our dinner on (such and such) day.’

Have we lost the meaning of Thanksgiving in trying to do it all, just to say we ‘had’ Thanksgiving dinner? Does knowing the day actually matter?

As it seems, a ‘holiday’ is not a holiday anymore – both in the working/business world and in extracurricular activities (sports tournaments, marathons, cross-border shopping). Events scheduled for a time when everyone is supposed to have ‘time,’ has blurred what the holiday was initially intended for – to give thanks and be with family. Juggling various schedules has become a...juggle....and many do the whole turkey dinner (or ham for some, vegan for others), either on the Saturday night, like we did, or on the weekend before or after.

But then there are those who feel Thanksgiving has become just another holiday that we HAVE to celebrate and would feel guilty/gypped/left-out if we didn’t, so a huge meal is prepared and guests are invited out of obligation. Or then there are those who don’t ‘celebrate’ it at all, refusing to conform to the ‘commercialism’ and ‘mayhem’ of something that is dictated by a calendar.

All this I gleaned from folks in the week leading up to Thanksgiving - in the stores, at work, at the bus stop, eavesdropping on the bus - everywhere.

And what finally sparked all my deep Thanksgiving thoughts was a comment made to me by someone at work the following Tuesday. After she recounted how busy her Thanksgiving was with all the visiting she had to do she exclaimed, “Phew, I’m exhausted – it felt just like Christmas!”

What happened? Are we doing it just because we HAVE to? What is Thanksgiving supposed to be anymore? Is it only a day/weekend/week that many acknowledge out of obligation? Is it a time, like Christmas, many overdo with cooking/stressing/racing around? Is it a long weekend that is only acknowledged as just that – a long weekend – and nothing more? Or is it an excuse to cram as much as we can into one, two or three days (if places of employment have granted an extra day off, that is), just because we are typically supposed to on a ‘long weekend’?

Or is it something we can be thankful for? Thankful for the powers-that-be for delegating a day to ensure we stop and be together - if only for an hour, if only over ham, or tofu-turkey burgers, or a cup of coffee.

The history of Thanksgiving has been forgotten by many. Heck, I’m embarrassed to admit I know more of the meaning behind ‘American’ Thanksgiving than ‘Canadian’ Thanksgiving (I guess I could Google that too!). But I take the opportunity to cook as much as I can, with ingredients typically only purchased at certain times of year (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc), just so we can have tons of leftovers (which everyone likes anyways) and just because ‘I can’ and am ‘supposed to. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel like they missed out. I guess some would say I am slave to the calendar.

But I take advantage and use the ‘holiday’ to ensure my family of four gets together at the dinner table, knowing full well we’ll resume our crazy/busy lives the next day as if nothing happened.

Not only does the act of acknowledging a ‘holiday’ serve as a vehicle to ensure we get together, but the leftovers bring us together again the next night.

On Sunday, the day before Thanksgiving, and the night after we had our own Thanksgiving dinner, as I wrapped another dish of leftovers while everyone sprawled on the couch moaning how full they were, I realized it didn’t matter what day of the week we acknowledged Thanksgiving. It was the fact that we were fortunate to do so, and that we did it all.

Thanks for reading!

(Photo credit - Charles M. Schulz (1922 - 2000)


  1. I couldn't be sure which day it was either! I take it as a day to be thankful even if often we've celebrated the day before or after. I must admit that many of us working in a hospital also give thanks for stat pay when we work the actual holiday. But whatever day we celebrate having family and friends to celebrate with while eating too much (speaking for myself only here) turkey and cranberry sauce makes me thankful.

    1. Thanks for reading, Pat - yes, it's important to give thanks year round, and for what matters the most. Lisa