We have often studied the notation on our Day-At-A-Time calendars -- Thanksgiving (Canada) -- and wondered what the festival entails. As it turns out, it's a national holiday that lands on the second Monday of October and mirrors our national celebration in menu (turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy), excited swapping of brining recipes, belt-expanding over-consumption and (at least in the case of the bespectacled used bookstore owner too busy talking on the phone with a friend to ring up our purchase) the sharing of squishy yet earnest-sounding platitudes.
Canadian Thanksgiving is older than ours (circa 1578) and involves no buckle-shoed pilgrims or pointy black hats. It traces back to an English explorer named Martin Frobisher who landed in northeastern Canada having not discovered a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean but was so psyched to still be in one piece that he initiated a day of thanks.
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We know all these facts because only yesterday we were in Vancouver, B.C. and took the opportunity to quiz the locals, especially the ones carrying plastic grocery bags bulging with boxed stuffing mix and russet potatoes, as well as those standing in a long line to pick up their Ladybug Manor organic turkey, and the only difference we were able to detect between their Thanksgiving and ours is that there are no big department store sales or parades plus Canadians live up to their reputation of being more laid-back than we are even when it comes to holidays. Unlike our prescribed fourth Thursday of November observation here in the States, the groaning Tryptophan-heavy feast in Canada can be held on any night of the 3-day weekend. Especially popular is the Sunday dinner so that Monday (the actual recognized holiday) is reserved for sleeping in as late as possible.
All afternoon heavenly roasting aromas spilled out into the street and a vibe of coziness spread over the entire city, reminding us of an annual tradition from our own Jonathan Gold, who has spent the past seven or so years cooking a pre-Thanksgiving meal for his friends a week before the actual holiday. For some reason, we always feel this event is especially moving (not to mention delicious) because it allows us the same opportunities of someone who commutes between the U.S. and Canada: Double the chance to break bread with our friends and family and to extend those squishy, earnest-sounding yet always heartfelt platitudes to those we love.