Tag: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in a Pandemic

Monday was Thanksgiving Day in Canada, one of my favourite holidays. An excuse to eat too much rich food, enjoy the company of a host of friends and bask in the autumn sunshine.

Not in 2020. 

In general, this year, the population is more inclined to grumble than to give thanks. We have a long litany of complaints, not least of which is no traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Our health authorities told us to have dinner in groups of no more than six. In some jurisdictions they said only dine with the people who live under your own roof all the time. I guess some families tried to pretend that a visiting relative was “living under our roof.” Perhaps they met the letter of the law, but certainly not the spirit. We worry about lost income, uncertain jobs, school openings, theatre closures and restricted travel. There is no end to our list of concerns. But that is looking on the dark side.

On the bright side, our Thanksgiving is mostly about the harvest and my garden was bountiful this year. I got about 50 pounds of zucchini from two little seeds. When I went to harvest a pumpkin for my Thanksgiving pie I found yet more zucchini’s forming on the remains of a plant and new blossoms!

The public health restrictions where I live are not so onerous. I can visit with my neighbour and even worship in person — with a spaced out congregation of not more than 50 people. I am warm and dry, entertained by old movies and favourite books, loved by my husband and tolerated by my cats.

We all live in different circumstances, yet we can look to the bright side. We can have hope. We must have hope. Without it despair overwhelms and life looses its sweetness. Prince George was so saddened by a documentary on the extinction of species he asked not to watch his favourite presenter, David Attenborough. However dire the situation, we cannot have a world of frightened, despairing children.

Hope is a gift authors can bring to the world. Writers, particularly romance writers, are keenly aware of the need for hope in the world. It’s why we espouse Happily Ever After. The mystery writer encourages her reader to see a world where justice prevails and hope is restored. Even in dystopian stories, the protagonist fights for a better world. He has hope.

I’ve read of some authors finding it hard to write while trying to cope with home-schooling, working remotely, and hearing an endless litany of bad news. But even those who are not writing now, have not despaired. They hope their muse will return. They hope the world will come around right again. They hope their children and grandparents will be safe. They look to their faith, or to science, or to history and find reason to hope.

In past years, I would wish you all abundance.

In 2020 I wish you hope.   Happy Thanksgiving.


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Canadian Thanksgiving

For those of you who don’t live in Canada, let me explain that we celebrate Thanksgiving — a harvest festival– on the second Monday of October. It’s a great time to give thanks as the garden crops are safely stored, the apple and pear trees and begging to be picked and pumpkins brighten the farmer’s fields with their stunning orange. Not only that, but the trees are turning colour. It is a most beautiful time of the year. Who wouldn’t give thanks.

Traditionally, we celebrate with a big turkey dinner with friends and relatives. We eat too much, enjoy pumpkin pie with whipped cream and then go back and snare a few more bites. I’m writing this post while still feasting on left over turkey. I love turkey sandwiches.

Of course, the whole point of the day is to remind us to be grateful for the many blessings in our lives. Here is my list of writerly gratitudes.

  • Great books. This year I’ve found myself lost in a story over and over again. I’m so grateful to those authors who churn out a compelling tale that takes me beyond myself.
  • Writer friends. We’re a strange breed, we writers. We live in our heads most of the time. We’re always wondering “what if . . .?” It’s good to have company in the wilderness.
  • The internet. For all it’s flaws and dangers — and there are many– the internet allows me to look up facts in a few minutes rather than the hours needed to go to a library and find the proper reference book. It also allows me to stay in touch with all those writer friends, from Australia to my own back door.
  • Libraries. My own library has reorganized itself, much to my chagrin, to be a “happening place” with a very meagre supply of actual books. I hope that is an anomaly. I love walking into a well stocked library and browsing the stacks. Who knows what gem will appear?
  • Authors who share. As well as reading many great books from excellent authors, I’ve been able to attend workshops from first rate teachers. I can read blogs daily, weekly, or on occasion from people who understand both the craft and business of books. I can send an e-mail to someone I’ve never met and get a helpful reply. Authors truly are terrific.  As a side note, Margaret Atwood has just won her second Booker Prize for Literature.  She is donating her share to the Canadian Indigenous charity, Indspire, one she has previously helped with her late friend and First Nations leader, Chief Harry St. Denis.    
  • All those scribes from every time and place who “wrote it down” so that succeeding generations will know the facts and the stories and the details of everyday life that the historians might leave out.

Happy post Thanksgiving to everyone. May your shelves be filled with lovely books and your mind spin out stories to transform the world.

P.S. Feel free to share your own writerly thanksgivings in the comments section.

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Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday.  The preparation time is short — a week at the outside — there is no demand to decorate the entire house, and there are no gifts to buy or costumes to make.   For me Thanksgiving is what a holy-day should be, a time to remember our Maker with gratitude, and a time to draw close to those we love.

This year was my turn to prepare the feast, turkey dinner.  The man of the house doesn’t believe it’s a proper holiday without turkey.  Lamb, ham, prime rib — none of these have the cachet of turkey when it comes to celebration.  So, I got up early on Sunday morning, stuffed the turkey and put it in the oven before heading off to church.  The day before I’d dug potatoes from the garden, baked an apple pie, and made my special cranberry/mandarin jellied salad, another offering that only appears on holidays.  My preparations were simple since my guests had all offered to bring a dish.  Usually, I turn down those offers, but this year I said yes.  Dinner for eight was a breeze.

However, there was one thing missing from the table — children.  When I began married life, our friends were like us, couples.  I could make elaborate table settings, balance acorns on oak leaves and serve adventurous dishes without worrying someone would knock it over or make a face and say “What’s that?”  Then children appeared.  The table had to stretch to twelve or fourteen or even eighteen.  Different tastes had to be accommodated.  The noise level went up.  I created a toy box, just for visiting children.  I needed bigger pots and a bigger turkey.  Festive occasions were loud and energetic and exhausting.

But this year, none of the next generation was present.  Dinner was so easy I feared I’d left something out.   Conversation focused on watching sports instead of playing them.  Retirement plans took the place of getting that first job.  Everyone went home at a reasonable time.

I still love Thanksgiving.  I revel in the bounty of harvest.  I bring out the best china and the silver tea set.  I dress my front door in fall colours.  But I miss the kids.  To my litany of thanks, I now add the privilege of knowing so many young people, (I’ve conducted a junior choir for years).  I’m grateful to all of them for enriching my life, for sharing their activities, their energy, their interests and their growing years with me.  A gift beyond price.

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