Americans regard Thanksgiving as a far bigger deal than most things, including: Christmas, New Years, the apocalypse, a universal health care system, and so on. It’s probably the most sacred day of the United States calendar year, and when I was little I just didn’t understand it. I remember my mom being super ticked off every single year because all ‘her shows’ would be replaced with airings of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, parades and this thing they used to show on American news called the ‘Santa Doppler Radar’ in which they would show a radar screen and say stupid crap like, “Ohhh, look! Santa’s heading back to the North Pole after his appearance in New York City!” And then… oh, and then… they would continue to show, in the time leading up to Christmas morning, updates of what Santa was doing, via – of all things- Doppler radar.
I also have loving memories of balloons going awry – of struggling handlers grasping at flyaway ropes to hold a giant Pink Panther or Bart Simpson in place as they sprung leaks, caught on branches, got carried away by an unexpected high wind, and all kinds of other natural disasters. And I wonder to this day – after all that trouble, why not just axe the fucking pain-in-the-ass balloons and just have floats which are as over-the-top tacky, festive and spangled, but far less of a risk? But no… still, these stupid balloons exist. They always have existed. And probably will for all time. At this point, the Macy’s parade balloons are probably as engrained into American Thanksgiving as a turkey and stuffing, or as the unfortunately, tragically, melodramatically-named ‘Black Friday’. Please. Why do they call it ‘Black Friday’? I know it’s a tradition and it’s rooted in history and all that but honestly… if Thanksgiving is supposed to be the kickoff party to start the holiday season, why is it followed by a day that by its name alone implies death, destruction, depression, hopelessness and doom?
I sound bitter. I am. Not because I’m anti-Thanksgiving, anti-holiday or anti-American (so Tea Party, don’t press the button… yet). It’s because I’m jealous. I wish I was eating turkey today; I wish I was sitting outside of Macy’s watching huge balloons and live music; I wish Canadians had not just Christmas but another huge, ornate, delicious, excessive holiday in November to hold us over until Christmas; and also, I wish I had today off. And I think Americans have tomorrow off too. Even better. And they get crazy sales tomorrow too. Triple better. And they get to pig out. I don’t even want to talk about it. Our Thanksgiving is kind of like the Gemini to the Americans’ Emmy Awards… lame, basically. And so yeah… I’m jealous, America. Eat turkey and drink wine and watch a parade. I’ll be at work in my office, with nothing going on.
At its heart though… Thanksgiving is more (albeit, slightly more) than the balloons, alcohol and food. It’s about what its title states it’s about; giving thanks – remembering what we’re all thankful for. And a border separates us from the USA, but I think despite that, there aren’t enough days of the year in which to say thank you. So I’d like to usurp an American holiday and say ‘thank you’ for the following:
-My mother, without whose wisdom, support, positivity, encouragement and amazingly epic sense of humour, I would not be half the person I am, inside, outside; I wouldn’t have a tenth of what I have. I wouldn’t be much, I wouldn’t have much, and I’d be stuck wondering what life would be like if I had a mother like mine. Though thankfully, that’s not where I’m at. Thanks, mom.
-My soul mate friends who really are more than I could have ever asked for. For a large part of my youth, in formative years especially, I was mostly without friends and unaware of the kinds of joys having people around your own age, with whom you can relate, can bring into your life. Everything from eating, to shopping, to driving, to class, to homework, to studying, to drinking, to writing becomes easier, better, more fun, more chatty and more meaningful when combined with the most amazing people you know. I personally feel I’m the luckiest person in the entire world, because I have the greatest friends in the entire world. They’re the kinds of friends you see on TV shows and see that each one fits perfectly into a niche slot and each balance and complement each other perfectly.
-Music, which is the guiding principle of my life and the most important part of absolutely every single thing that matters, that I always knew was a huge part of my own life but before coming into my own tastes ,was unsure to what extent that interaction and engagement with music could do for me emotionally. The songs I love can either lift me up into another realm, space and place of meaning and help me to overcome, conquer and channel my fears and insecurities into happy dances and drinking songs; or alternatively, it can validate me when I sadly listen, even if doing so makes me feel small, useless and lonely.
-My passion for writing, which has ended up giving me all of the above in ways that are outstanding, rewarding, experience-granting and have helped me to feel close to that special ivory tower of being among people who are the BEST at what they do. Writing gave me the ability to find, listen to and use challenging, beautiful music; writing gave me those soul mate friends I love; writing gave me a direction in life, in ability, the belief in a talent. Writing gave me mentors to aspire to be, invisible challenges that I believe I can overcome, and peace of mind after years of emotional turmoil and fear of confession.
-Carol Shields, who I sometimes feel walks beside me in my aforementioned ivory tower and helps me just enough along the way. Not only does she dispense wisdom surrounding the world of writing I’m desperate to belong in, but also into the world of life, womanhood, sustainability, age. If not for her books, I would never feel as whole as I do.
-Every single time there is a summertime sunset in Edmonton, I think to myself, ‘I would never take this for granted’. And true to my word, I don’t. Every single one is a packaged gift. The kind of gift which comes as no surprise because it happens every day, at around the same time and yet – whenever it does occur, I am breathless and overwhelmed by its simple pleasurable beauty. There really is nothing like an Edmonton sunset and I think that once I leave this amazing city, other than the people and my favourite restaurants, that is the thing I’ll miss the most.
-I’m grateful that cookies exist. Simply because they are cookies and I love cookies more than almost anything. Bee Bell cookies specifically are another Edmonton thing that I’ll miss oh so dearly when I eventually leave this place. Cookies are the dessert-esque item that makes my universe orderly with every star in its rightful, happy place. They are delicious; thank you for them.
I’m also grateful for simple things like having a caring, inclusive, wonderful job to wake up and go to every day; I’m grateful that I can eat breakfast in the morning and have, despite certain unfortunate circumstances and events in my life, been offered every single opportunity – more than that, actually – to succeed, foster my talent, passions and ambitions, and succeed so far, at the majority of them. I’m grateful that I’m sitting here writing this right now, as literacy can be a struggle for many on either a minor or severe level and I’m blessed by the ability to express myself with the exciting and diverse world of the English language, an unchartered country in itself. I’m grateful that I wake up most mornings and there is a purring, curled-up black cat on my bed.
I’m even grateful for American thanksgiving, which has given me a second ‘official’ opportunity each year to reflect on all that I’m thankful for; and also which has allowed me to share them with you. And also, for providing me with childhood memories of those hilariously awry balloons and watching children’s entertainment on television for then-unbeknownst reasons. And so that Canadians could piggy back the holiday so that we too, could eat turkey, stuffing and apple pie. Only USA, I eat mine with cheddar cheese, not ice cream. It just tastes better. Really. I know it sounds weird, but…