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.

Fall scenery on a twisting road near Barry's Bay, Ontario.
Somewhere outside of Barry’s Bay, fall 2020.

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.”

Walking along the Rideau Canal in October 2021
Along the Rideau Canal in Ottawa on Thursday.

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.

My Thanksgiving weekend shopping outfit. Grey Aritzia dress, Stuart Weitzman loafers, Mackage bag. In front of our house on the river.
Our front yard on Friday.

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.

Now that’s a fall sky I can love.

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.


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35 thoughts on “Happy Thanksgiving Weekend”

  1. No thanksgiving here but I’ve googled it so I know what’s going on . We used to have Harvest Festivals at school when we all brought fruit & veg etc to pile on tables ( a lovely sight ) then sang nice hymns like ‘ We Plough The Fields & Scatter ‘ . It was very much a religious festival & I don’t know whether it still happens in the schools . In my googling I found something new called Nanaimo bars . You can send me some of those if you like but no Turkey 😁
    We walked into York along the riverside this morning & picked up coffees to sip in the sunshine . It looked very like your Rideau photo , same tree colours , blue sky & sunshine but many miles away .
    Hope your mum is picking up a little now .

  2. No Thanksgiving here but plenty of moody skies and a chill in the air. Love your sweater dress. Do you ever wear it with jeans?

  3. Sue,
    I wish our Thanksgiving was this week. I’m in the middle of a move and it would be nice to have a little wiggle room between finalizing the move and Christmas. Oh well, I’m sure it will all be fine but it will make for a well-remembered 2 months. HA
    Enjoy your holiday.

  4. Happy Thanksgiving back to you and all who read. We are going to be alone for the holiday so I am cooking a very small size meal compared to years past. My hubby in not so fond of leftovers for more than one day. I am so surprised, but happy for you, that your weather is so much different than ours in central southern Ontario. We have had rain for a week, and another week in the forecast, so I may need my hip waders to go for a walk soon. You just touched on the subject of your mom, so I do hope all is well there.
    I was hoping to be able to wear dresses and skirts for the fall, but with the wet windy weather so far, I feel much better in full length pants or jeans. The image of returning to your camp with the heavy wet snow and no heat is a good reason for me to say “no thanks” to fall camping. You just can’t trust the weather forecast. Enjoy your meal and the turkey induced nap this afternoon. Also a chance to do as you please Monday. Oh, and thanks to Wendy for the reminder of how much I love Nanaimo bars.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving! Over twenty years ago, when our son was a toddler, my husband and I decided, somewhat on the spur of the moment, to drive to Niagara Falls over Columbus Day weekend. We had no idea that Columbus Day coincided with Canadian Thanksgiving. Since we did not have a reservation, we had a bit of trouble finding a hotel room (not recommended with a cranky toddler). But we were eventually successful and enjoyed a wonderful weekend.
    Thanksgiving (American) is actually my favorite holiday. It is just so much more relaxed than Christmas and kind of a last gasp before the hectic Christmas season.

  6. Enjoyed your YouTube video of your delightful Fall camping trip. Loved the beautiful scenery and quaint towns.
    Just returned from my husband’s first outing since pandemic began. Beautiful scenery along California coast, small coastal towns, and family visits. This was a much needed break. Today, we return to actually sitting in church. The delta variant numbers have declined in our coastal town. Livestreaming church was handy but looking forward to seeing some missed friends. Oh, and getting a little spiffed up, too.
    Enjoy your Thanksgiving and what sounds like a delicious feast! Prayers for your mom, your sister, her husband, and you and your husband.
    Charlene H

  7. Happy Thanksgiving. Just read your posts on your Croatian Thanksgiving, wonderful. Good insights and travel log. I would love to see it all myself one day. I don’t think hubby and I will be doing any international travel for a long, long time. Seems like covid is intrenched in the world, hope I’m wrong…but first trip crossing a border would be yours. My Canadian cousin and I talk often about when we can visit each other again. Until then, stay healthy all.

  8. Happy Thanksgiving, Sue and Stu!
    We had an early feast yesterday at our daughter’s house — so good to be able to gather ’round a table together again. And even better not to have to deal with leftovers (as much as I love a good turkey sandwich) and all the clean up! Also, like you, I find much to be thankful for in not having to fit in hours of marking over the weekend. . .
    Crossing my fingers you’ll get the weather you need for your Monday outing. We’re well into Rain Rain Rain! on the Wet Coast (reassuringly normal, to be honest, and so I’m even thankful for that 😉

  9. Think it isn’t too hard to yak yak yak after storing up so much conversation for 18+ months, yes? You may be forgiven for having so much to share. You look great in your dress and tights.

    Hope you, Stu and your sister have a lovely Thanksgiving meal together. Since my DH does not cook (like Stu), I am everlastingly grateful that my adult children have taken over the provision of Thanksgiving/Christmas celebrations/dinners. Much simpler to show up with the wine and dinner rolls…:)

  10. Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful time with your family. No word yet on whether we will be able to gather with anyone other than our two children again this year. I wish there was more time between T’day and Christmas. We also have two family birthdays squeezed in between the two holidays.

    Warning:Rambling ahead. You can quit reading now if you want.

    Here in the states we are having Indigenous People Day/Weekend, formerly Columbus Day Weekend. My husband and I used to go to Stanstead, Que on this weekend to celebrate the respective holiday on both sides of the border, but this is the second year we’ve had to forgo the trip. We found an orchard in our state a couple of hours away, but it wasn’t the same. We are hoping that next fall we will find the folks in Que still successfully in business and we can once again buy their delicious apple juice (cider), several varieties of apples for applesauce and pies, jams, and piccalilli.

    When I visited my daughter this weekend so we could enjoy shenanigans and a craft and food truck sale, I discovered that the owners of one of the food trucks was a former student of mine-my first year of teaching 42 years ago! He was too busy to chat, but his kids were wide-eyed at the idea that I remembered him so many years later. Same chubby cheeks!

    When I visited Ottawa back in the fall of 1976, the colors were spectacular. I always thought that if I needed to move to Canada, I’d choose the Ottawa area. Now I’m not so sure Canadians would let me in since the U.S. is a mess in so many ways right now.

    Anyway, thanks for including us readers in your holiday and I hope you have great weather for your after dinner walk. Carol in VT

  11. Happy Thanksgiving. It would be nice to have more time between the two. Oh, well. We are having a warmer Fall too. It’s ok with me as we have so many months of cold and snow. My husband and I had our 2nd vaccine March 29th and got break through cases in September. So disappointing but minor symptoms and 4-5 days of not feeling well and lingering fatigue and congestion. Our nephew is in the ICU with COVID, unvaccinated and his girlfriend, also unvaccinated, died today. She had been in hospital for less than a week and was put on a ventilator. Both are 32 and she leaves behind 3 daughters. So, so unnecessary and sad. We are gearing up for flu shots and boosters. Yes, we miss travel so much, but as your rant showed, our “united” states are not that on masking and vaccines and it keeps us with sickness and death from this virus. I agreed with that post whole heartedly and we have had school board members resign and city council get security measures to stay safe. I don’t understand. Glad you are able to gather with some loved ones. My father-in-law is in hospice and almost 88. He’s had a good life and the end is interesting. Tough stuff. I hope 2022 is much, much better.

    1. Oh my goodness, that is such a sad story, Christa. Her family must be devastated. Hard to NOT be angry with someone who refuses to be vaccinated.

  12. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. It’s 80 degrees here and I’m wearing shorts! Yup, no need for boots, sweaters or a third layer of any sort. Our Thanksgiving in November will be contingent on the adult children’s work schedule and their in-laws plans. We have a small family and each year things shift. That’s life.. three years ago mom died the day after Thanksgiving and I get melancoly around the holiday ever since.. I usually like to get outside and walk weather permitting in November and clear my head, shake the cobwebs and enjoy a few moments by myself.

  13. Enjoying Thanksgiving this year..last year’s was gut wrenching on many levels…Table for seven + instead of three this year. The + is due in the next couple weeks, so much to be thankful for. I used to go all out, full on Martha Stewart for Thanksgiving but decided sanity trumped Ms Stewart’s perfection. Since nobody cares for dark meat or legs I get a fresh turkey breast from Costco and prep up a few days before ( the littles have to eat by five and their parents scoot them off home by 7:00) we keep it to the favourites: squash,mashed potato, carrots, green beans, stuffing, turkey and gravy. Purchased cheesecake for dessert and homemade cookies for the kids…wine for the elders! We love leftovers, plenty for sandwiches ( hot & cold) and the big breast bone gets tossed into the soup pot, left over squash meets a similar fate.
    My youngest brother taught high school for many years and TG weekend would find him settled by the fire at our family’s Georgian Bay cottage along with the dog, marking papers. Like you he said that he never really enjoyed a long weekend because of the marking. The trip from Toronto and forty minute boat ride cleared his head and at least he could enjoy the foliage if not a turkey dinner.
    We are worried about my FIL in Moncton and the NB lockdown as he is alone. My SIL flew down Thursday and got in under the wire so he will have a Thanksgiving dinner.
    Hope your Mom is doing better and all is well.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Marking in front of a fire in a cottage on Georgian Bay would make the work go easier, I think. Mum is still in hospital. They have closed the NB hospitals to visitors and have clamped down on restrictions for a couple of weeks due to rising Covid cases. Hope it works.

    1. Thanks Dottoressa. Two years ago, and a few days later than this, we would be on our way to meet you for coffee. Still love that leather jacket of yours. 🙂

  14. Thanksgiving has lot of bitter sweet meories for us. dinners with my faamily, and then y husbands. Dinners with friends ho lost their father(we shared xmas and alterated Thanksgiving. )Than it got really smaller. The past few years my co-mothr in – law who comes from a huge family, has included us in their dinners Great fun-everyone brings something.Thia year one of the grand daughers will do the honor. Should bei ntresting. Not sure if she even knows what a turkey looks like But it will e fine. The beauty is n the gathering and the funny shared stories from each year. Seeing how the children are growing and developing. The new friends,etc that come and are a part of thisyear’s family. So whether you are in Canada or the U.S have a wonderful,blessed time with your family ,however it is configured. Because that is the most important thing.

  15. I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your sister and that the turkey was delicious. My mouth is watering at the idea of a brined turkey.
    The sweater dress is lovely and looks great with the tights and loafers.
    The photos are terrific. The shot of the canal is so crisp and clear and the moody fall sky is wonderful too.

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