It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, my friends. Over a month earlier than our American cousins celebrate. And thank goodness. Because celebrating Thanksgiving in October instead of late November means that, when Christmas rolls around, sufficient time will have passed for me to forget how very, very stuffed with turkey I was after Thanksgiving dinner. And how very tired I grew of turkey sandwiches, turkey pot pie, and turkey soup in the month following Thanksgiving. By December 25, I will be ready and willing to submit to turkey torture all over again. Ha.
Thanksgiving, of course, means different things to different people. For me, it’s never been about large family gatherings; those happen at Christmas. Mostly it has meant the onset of fall, turkey dinner, and the first long weekend of the school term. As a kid I longed for that first long weekend. And as a teacher I did too. Except for the marking that I always had to bring home. Thanksgiving weekend happens about four to five weeks into the fall term, “progress’ report cards came out a couple of weeks later, and so marking was always de rigueur. It was either that or face such a back log when I returned to school that it wasn’t worth the extra day of rest.
For years Thanksgiving weekend meant Hubby’s and my fall camping trip. The leaves would be turning. The days were mostly sunny and warm, wonderful for hiking in the bush. And the nights starry and cool and perfect for campfires. For a few years, after our Sunday afternoon hike in the woods, we’d clean up, and then partake of the Thanksgiving church supper at Saint Casimir’s in Round Lake Centre. A couple of times we had our Thanksgiving dinner at a lovely B&B in Barry’s Bay.
But the weather in October is unpredictable. I remember vividly the Thanksgiving it snowed. After dinner at the B&B, replete with good food, a nice wine, and even pumpkin pie, we drove in the darkness back to our campsite, where the awning of our tent trailer was bowed down with snow, and the little gas furnace wouldn’t start. Yep. That night was a wee bit chilly, folks. Those were the years before we started packing down sleeping bags and ski jackets. I think we slept with all of our clothes on that night, including a couple of layers of thermal underwear. Once we’d both retired from teaching, we began to book our fall camping trip a pinch earlier. Then we’d be sure of enjoying fall weather, instead of the beginning of winter. Ha.
These days our fall camping trip is done and dusted by Thanksgiving weekend. And on Thanksgiving Day, if we are at home in Ottawa, we always have our own turkey dinner. This means that Hubby gets to have turkey, which he loves, not just for Thanksgiving dinner, but for weeks afterward. He has also taken over cooking the turkey since the major turkey fail that I was responsible for a couple of years ago. One might even think that that disaster was deliberate on my part, since it meant I didn’t have to worry about the bird anymore. Ha. I’m admitting nothing, people.
And for me? Well, I still associate Thanksgiving Monday with marking the first major assignment of the semester for my writing class. Sitting at the picnic table under the tall pine trees at our campsite, reading the childhood memoirs of my senior students. No marking for me on Thanksgiving weekend these days. Or marking at all, ever, actually. But I still remember vividly those wonderful stories about much-loved grandfathers, favourite childhood games, or family trips. I think those now grown-up kids would be amazed at how much Ms. Burpee remembers about their stories.
For a few years, pre-Covid, we were travelling at Thanksgiving. In 2018, Hubby and I were in Italy, in the town of Agerola, on the Amalfi Coast. And the next year, 2019, we were in Croatia, at a small family owned hotel in Trogir, steps from the Adriatic Sea, about to head inland for three life-changing days in Bosnia-Herzegovina. You can read about our Croatian Thanksgiving adventures here, and here.
The fall is a wonderful time to travel. Just not yet. At least not for us. Not while the Canadian government website still discourages all but essential overseas travel. And when it’s still so hard to figure out whether relaxed restrictions in the destination country mean it’s safe, or simply that the country can’t survive without the much needed tourist economy.
I talked to my step-brother David on the phone yesterday. To update him and his wife Yu Ling on Mum’s progress, and just to say Happy Thanksgiving. Among other things, we talked about how tired we are of not travelling, of staying close to home because of the pandemic. David travelled widely for his work for years. And he and his wife and kids travel as much as they can. He and his family live in Alberta, where the delta variant is out of control. Where resistance to the vaccine is strong. And where government restrictions were lifted too soon, and put back in place too late. His kids are fed up, he and his wife are fed up, but as he says, “What can you do? Go for walks. Stick close to home. Wear a mask. Get vaccinated. Be careful. Wait.”
So this year we are celebrating an at home holiday again. The weather leading up to Thanksgiving weekend has been wonderful. On Thursday morning, with my two buddies, I walked the path along the Rideau Canal down to The National Arts Centre, then back again to Fifth Avenue in the Glebe, where the Canal Ritz was just opening. So we stopped for cappuccinos on their deck overlooking the water. It was a most restorative morning. The trees were turning colour and the sun shone as we walked, and laughed, and yakked. And yakked and yakked and yakked. How is it that we never, ever run out of conversation, I wonder?
On Friday, I eschewed my sweatpants and sneakers, did my hair and makeup, and went shopping. I even wore a dress, my friends. This is one of the two sweater dresses from Aritzia that I bought last winter. Instead of my Chelsea boots, I wore it with tights and my Stuart Weitzman loafers. I actually prefer it with the boots, but it seemed a bit too warm for boots on Friday. But not too warm to try on boots, for that was my shopping mission that day. I’ll let you know next week how I got on.
On Sunday Hubby will cook our Thanksgiving turkey. He’s brining it again this year. Something he researched and tried for the first time last year, to rave reviews from moi. My sister will join us this year for our Thanksgiving meal. And I hope we will have a great dinner, and a lovely day
On Monday I’m hoping that Hubby and I will be able to go for a long walk in the woods. Or, if the weather is as warm as promised, we’ll take our bikes instead. The trails through the Ferguson Forest conservation area in Kemptville are through bush, mostly, well sign-posted, and varied. We love it there. And if we burn off enough energy, we may decamp to the chip wagon for french fries once we are done riding. But not too many fries. I’ll still be recovering from our turkey dinner. I’m thinking that the healthy eating thing may have to wait until next week.
So that’s what we’re doing on Thanksgiving weekend. And have been doing, this year, and in years gone by.
Everyone has been raving about the weather this year. And while all the sunny days and unseasonably warm temperatures are fine, I’m still more of a moody skies with a chill in the air kind of girl. At this rate my tweed blazers will never get out and about before the snow files. Unless I plan a couple of weeks when I wear nothing but blazers. Tweed to walk in, tweed to the mall, and tweed to bed. Okay, maybe not to bed.
Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, my friends, if you celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. And if not, I hope you have a wonderful weekend, anyway.