This IS the day -
"...a day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God
for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed."
So reads the decree enacted by Parliament in 1879. The actual date moved around a little before the government proclaimed that National Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the 2nd Monday of October.
When I was growing up, there was never any thought of celebrating on any other day than the officially decreed Monday. It mattered not a whit that folks had to be rough and ready for work the next morning, or that kids had to be up and out to school. Thanksgiving back then was a single day, a great day of family and food complete with all the good china and silverware, and of course, we ate in the dining room, not at the kitchen table.
This was the day back then, when "the bird" - always at least a 22 pounder! - had to be stuffed and in the oven by 9am. My mother was in the kitchen shortly after 7 in the morning and didn't leave it until supper was served at 6pm and then she was back in there cleaning up until late. No microwave ovens, no automatic dishwasher, no convection oven, and one small fridge, with a 1 cubic foot freezer section.
And yet, it still was always a feast of plenty including leftovers for turkey sandwiches, turkey stew, or pot pie during the week. Mom loved every minute of it, perhaps not so much the clearing up, for which my Dad was conspicuous by his absence...
"Lovely meal Irene, now I'm going to bed."Yeah, that was Dad, but to be honest I'm not sure how welcome he was in Mom's kitchen.
For both the indigenous tribes and the early newcomers to this land, this time of year was one of both deepest gratitude and fervent hope. Come wind, come weather the land had yielded her best and barns were more or less full.
But would the bounty be enough to sustain life through a winter of unknowns?
I have not known such a tenuous life, none of my family has. Sure, we've had our struggles, our lean times, but we've always been able to gather together at Thanksgiving amid an embarrassment of riches. I am as humbled as I am grateful for this bounty.
I'm now of a great enough age to be keenly aware that good living does not grant any immunity from calamity down the road. A winter of unknowns may give a warning but never asks permission to visit, let alone stay a while.
In my heart and home, today is a day to kick back, relax, enjoy and reflect.
I am so very thankful on this day for my family, my friends, our health and prosperity. I am truly grateful "for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed."
Happy Thanksgiving, eh!
©2019 April Hoeller