You Are the Fingers to My Keys

Canadian Thanksgiving is my new favorite holiday.

No. I’m not Canadian. I’ve only been to Canada once, and it was barely over the border. My husband’s family is German. And with little research, I’m pretty sure I may qualify to register as a Daughter of the American Revolution. I’m about as American as they come.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am so grateful for all we have here in the United States. We are (currently) the freest nation in the world. We have extreme wealth and opportunities. I am blessed to live here.

But in the heat of August and September, when I’m dreaming of fall leaves and flannel sheets, my heart beats happily with the thought of Canadian Thanksgiving.

Three years ago, as my family was enjoying our four-day fall break weekend, we discovered that Canadian Thanksgiving falls on the same day as Columbus Day. Because turkey and stuffing are not served on Columbus Day, we decided to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving instead.

When I say we, I really mean my husband was baffled and my kids looked at me like I am a nut. They still do this when I get all glowy about Canadian Thanksgiving at the end of the summer. They actually say, “All you talk about is Canadian Thanksgiving.”

So, after visiting a new church that year, my friend and I went to the grocery store to gather ingredients to make our feast for Canadian Thanksgiving.

We roasted the turkey. We made her grandmother’s famous sweet potato casserole. We fixed my husband’s sausage stuffing. By the end of the day, we knew this was a tradition we’d have to carry on.

Coming from a family that doesn’t gather on the holidays, I finally felt at home during Canadian Thanksgving. I have these very idealistic ideas of sisters laughing in the kitchen while the spend the day preparing a meal while the men watch football and the kids play in the crisp fall leaves.

I definitely get the holiday feeling with my husband’s family. My father-in-law prepares a feast for the ages. The Tietz family plays games from the time they wake until the last person falls asleep. And we spend the day looking at the upcoming holiday ads to decide what we will run out and buy the next day.

The Fourth of July used to be my favorite holiday. It seemed to be the holiday with the least amount of overhead. You get together for a cookout, a swim, a game of catch or an auto show before closing out the night looking at glowing blasts against a darkened sky. The Fourth of July was just about being together.

I can’t say that I don’t like Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas, either. My eyes get all sparkly with holiday cheer right after Halloween. But as I get older, it seems that these holidays get filled with everything except for just being with the ones we love. I can’t say I’m a victim in this. I am a contributor.

There are magazine ideas, television shows, commercials, and shelves stocked with the next holiday before the current one is finished. My idea of what the holiday should or will be is already filled before the day actually comes.

And that’s why Canadian Thanksgiving is my new favorite holiday. Each year, we rewrite what we want it to be. Last year, it was a traditional dinner surrounded by hysterical laughing over games.

This year, we had chicken pot pies with sweet potato casserole, banana bread and caramel apples with our fatty pants on. My husband smoked the chicken, we built a fire, and watched a movie after lounging through Sunday football and reading a magazine together.

There is little preparation. No fuss. No travel plans. No sale ad to look at. No shopping to think about. Nothing except just what we feel like happening that day. Everything on Canadian Thanksgiving is just about gathering for a peaceful, fun-filled day.

Canadian Thanksgiving may have just been another day to many of you this year. But for me, it was a day that ended with the five people I am closest to gathering around the table for a meal we thought about and prepared together. It ended with us sharing sentiments like “You are the marshmallow to my s’mores.” “You are the caramel to my apple.” “You are the ______ to my ______.”

And we laughed in ways we don’t on a regular dinner night and shared like we haven’t on any other holiday.

I hope that I will bring these practices into other gatherings. Or maybe they’ll be these special memories that make my heart glow come August and September. Maybe when my kids are grown, they’ll get excited to gather for our October holiday. They’ll remember how that crazy mom gave them that one holiday that was unlike any other because Canadian Thanksgiving, for me, is just about family.

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I may do it all, but I have not done it all.

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