It’s the Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and most folks there will be celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving with friends, family and a big turkey dinner. Although we live thousands of miles away, my family and I will be joining them. As many of you already know, I grew up in Canada and am proud to be a citizen of both the Great White North and my home, the United Kingdom.
Although I missed a couple of years when I first arrived in the UK, for the last twenty years or so I’ve made sure that my family and I always marked Canadian Thanksgiving. We were lucky enough to spend a few lovely Thanksgivings with my late parents in Canada and last year my son celebrated with his Canadian Aunt, Uncles and cousins when he was studying in London, Ontario. My husband and I chatted to the family on iChat and man, did I feel like I was missing out!
Now our son is back in the UK and we are looking forward to celebrating together on Sunday with friends around our table. You can’t get anything but frozen turkey here this time of year so I’ll cook a chicken – the biggest one I can find – or maybe even two of them. I will refer to these chickens as “turkey” and for just this one day my family will indulge my delusion. After all, it will taste fairly similar to a turkey, served with the usual Thanksgiving dishes – mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, stuffing and vegetables. And there will be pumpkin pie and perhaps a pumpkin cake or two as well.
When I first came to England most Brits didn’t even believe me when I said Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving in October. In fact, even yesterday when I was sharing with the folks in our local shops that this weekend was Thanksgiving, a lot of them looked very surprised. “It’s a bit early, isn’t it?” one asked. I don’t know why our Canadian Thanksgiving is so over-shadowed by the American one. I love the spirit of Thanksgiving, no matter when it is celebrated.
It is easier to celebrate Thanksgiving now than it was when I first arrived in England. Back then, finding anything even remotely familiar to create a traditional Thanksgiving meal was nigh on impossible. Although they are not widely available, you can now get most of the familiar North American brands if you look hard enough. There’s Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce, canned pumpkin and even Stove Top Stuffing (albeit at an extortionate price!). So barring the turkey, my Thanksgiving offerings look and taste much like the ones you’ll find on so many Canadian tables this weekend.
I became a British citizen eighteen years ago and as I’ve lived here in the UK half my life now, much of my cultural identity is British. It doesn’t stop me from embracing my Canadian side though. In fact, on this day in October almost more than any other – well, my name is April, and I’m a Canadian.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody!