Yes, in Canada, today is Thanksgiving Day.  It is much the same as American Thanksgiving:  turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, family getting together…  But it’s not nearly as important to Canadians (as a generalization) as it is to Americans (another fine generalization).  It is my impression that in the US, Thanksgiving is considered the most important holiday of the year.  Families will come together at Thanksgiving and not at Christmas.  I would venture to say (in another sweeping generalization) that Canadians will tend to gather as a family at Christmas, and consider gathering then as more important than gathering at Thanksgiving.  And my impression is that the opposite is true in the US.  (Feedback?  I’d love to know if my sweeping generalizations are true or not. :o)

Big Hair Envy asked if I’d share some of my family’s Thanksgiving traditions.  Well, my family is not a real traditional family.  We’re an Air Force family, which means we’re spread out a lot.  (Less at the moment, as three of my siblings live within four hours of each other in Alberta.)  This means that at Thanksgiving, whoever is within a reasonable drive of each other will have dinner together.  So I went to my parents’ house (across town) yesterday, and my siblings all gathered at Sis1’s house.

I almost always spend Thanksgiving with my parents.  I am usually the one who lives closest.  I’m also single, and there seems to be an expectation that single folks will do the family thing.

We used to have the full-on traditional T’giving meal:  roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes (‘cuz we’re Irish-ish and the world would end if we had a meal without them), a second vegetable (usually brussels sprouts since I tried them and developed a preference), pumpkin pie.  Sometimes we’d have yams.  My mother used to always make it a big, fancy meal, using the “good” china, putting out “pick trays” of cheese cubes, pickles, tomatoes, carrot sticks, celery sticks.  We also used to have Jello salad, which was either green or red Jello with small cubes of apple mixed in before it solidified.  (I have never liked Jello salad;  I have never understood it.  Anybody else know what I’m talking about?)

This is the first year that we have not had at least some semblance of the turkey dinner.  My mother has a stomach condition and can’t eat turkey anymore.  She hasn’t been able to for quite some time now, but until this year, she has always made turkey dinner for my father and me.  She took an uncharacteristically selfish (in a positive way) stand this year and said we were having steak.  So the tradition for a “fancy” steak dinner includes sauteed mushrooms, some sort of potato (again, it is a requirement in my parents’ house), brussels sprouts, and pumpkin pie.

Another part of our family tradition is that we have the family dinner on the Sunday, rather than the Monday (which is, I believe, the actual Thanksgiving Day).  I asked my mother about it the other day, and she said that they started doing that because people could travel on the Saturday, have the big meal on the Sunday, and travel home on the Monday.  Since it is only a three-day weekend in Canada, this makes sense.

We don’t have any other family traditions associated with T’Giving.  Many families will go around the table to share what they are thankful for.  We don’t do that.  I don’t think my father understands why people would do such a thing.  (My father is a conundrum.  Another post for another day.)  Some families play touch football.  We’ve never done that, either.  We do all eat too much, which isn’t so much tradition as it is inevitable.

Sometimes, one of my siblings will call to wish us all a Happy T’Giving.  Or more than one.  But this is not mandatory with T’Giving, the way it is at Christmas.  At Christmas, we all must talk to each other.  Someone starts things off (one or the other of my sisters, usually), and calls another person.  Who then must call another household, who must call the first household.  A happy little round robin of phoning.  It doesn’t all have to happen on Xmas day;  it is acceptable to wait until Boxing Day.  (Which is the day after Xmas.  I’ve heard that there is no such day in the US;  maybe I’ll blog about that sometime.)

I can’t help but think that this is a bit of a disappointing post.  My family just doesn’t do traditions, for the most part.  My father really dislikes them, and nobody else pushes it.  I know my sisters have their own family traditions, but I don’t really know what they are.

So the fact that we don’t really have many traditions probably says a lot about my family.  As I commented to my parents last night, our biggest tradition for holidays like T’Giving and Xmas is being together.  Usually not all of us, but whoever is close by gets together and shares a meal.  And to me, that’s what those days are all about.

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