Monday, October 08, 2012

Canadian Thanksgiving

I've always considered Canadian Thanksgiving an odd beast.  We really don't have the same reason to celebrate the holiday as our neighbours to the south.  In fact I always assumed we had it because we thought, "Oh hey, that looks like a fun holiday, let's do that too!  Only to be a little different, let's change the date!"

Well it turns out I'm both right and wrong. Some speculate it originated like this:

The first formal Canadian Thanksgiving was held just over 40 years prior to the pilgrims landing in Massachusetts. An English explorer named Martin Frobisher had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. He did not succeed but he did establish a settlement in Northern America and he did celebrate a harvest feast. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving.

In 1957, Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October that Thanksgiving would be "a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed."

And others claim:

York U researcher Peter Stevens:

Canada’s Thanksgiving –first celebrated in 1859 -- has little to do with ... Martin Frobisher’s ship on a visit to Baffin Island in 1578,

Ontario’s Protestant church leaders appropriated the American autumn holiday in the 19th century and transformed it into an instrument of Canadian nationalism

By the 1870s, American holiday traditions -- family gatherings, turkey dinner and stories of pilgrims – came to Canada, creating commercial opportunities for businesses and a way for Catholics to celebrate the day as a non-religious event.

Because the [American] holiday was too late in the year for Canadians to spend the day outdoors, in 1899 the federal government scheduled the holiday for mid-October most years

For my family it really has never been a big deal holiday.  In fact we don't really celebrate it.  So my interest in Thanksgiving is not really . . . big.  That being said, the idea of giving thanks is still a nice one.  And I think we often forget to think about all the good things, when the bad things can be kind of overwhelming.  So here's my list of what I'm grateful for:

- my health.  Seriously, I know it's all very, "Well at least you have your health" but darn, I really am beyond grateful to be a healthy person.  I am very lucky that way.

- my family.  Best. Family. Ever.  Both immediate and extended.  They have always been there for me, supportive of me and my goals.  And they make me laugh.  In the best way.

My cousin Devorah and me.

- my friends.  I've gone on and on about them before, but I have been truly honoured to have these insanely talented, clever and hilarious people in my life.  Not a frenemy in the crowd and like my family, as supportive as all get out. I don't know how I got so lucky.

Just an example of but a few of my awesome friends.  L-R: Emily, Me, Carrie, Penny.

- my cat.  I mean, it's not like he just happened into my life.  I wanted a cat.  I went cat comparison shopping (courtesy of The Toronto Cat Rescue).  And when I met Atticus, he was just perfect.  But I am grateful for him, because he makes me extremely happy.  He's silly, he's infuriating, he's sometimes rather clever.  And he's so soft and schnooglable.


- my career(s).  You know, I'll be honest, I'm not 100% satisfied with how things are going - but I'm a difficult person to please.  Nonetheless, at least things are going.  At least I am doing something that I am passionate about and love.  Which is likely why it also drives me to insanity.  But I am very lucky to get to do what I do.  And to get to share it with all of you. 

- movies.  Whoever invented movies was a genius.

- food.  Whoever invented food was a genius.

There are many other things to be grateful for - internet access, massage therapists, the work of Douglas Adams and William Shakespeare -  but if I enumerated them all the list might never end.  Needless to say I am grateful.  Very grateful.

So what are you thankful for?  I know not all of you are Canadian, but it never hurts to think about it and say thanks :) .


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