"...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. Though the date has moved around a little - at first it was November 6, then it was the 3rd Monday in October, but on January 31, 1957 the government proclaimed that National Thanksgiving be celebrated on the 2nd Monday of October - the feast remains a celebration of plenty.
Back 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 mind you complete with all the good china and silverware, and of course we ate in the dining room.
Saturday was spent grocery shopping and silver polishing, If we did a really good job on the silver for Thanksgiving, only a few touch ups would be needed for the Christmas feast! Sunday was for church, and maybe even a trip to the Royal Ontario Museum afterwards. In the afternoon, Mom made the pies.
On Thanksgiving Day, "the bird" - always at least a 22 pounder! - had to be stuffed and in the oven by 10am. My mother was in the kitchen by 8 in the morning and didn't leave it until supper was served at 6 and then she was back in there cleaning up until late. Honestly I don't know how she did it all. No microwave ovens, no automatic dishwasher, no convection oven, and one small fridge, with a 1 cubic foot freezer section. Yet it was always a feast of plenty including leftovers for turkey sandwiches, turkey stew, or pot pie during the week. And she loved every minute of it (well maybe not so much the clearing up, for which my Dad was conspicuous by his absence).
In my household, today is a day to kick back, relax, enjoy and Clean Up - our family celebration was yesterday. As always, it too was a feast of plenty, perhaps even a feast of "too much". I worked too much, I made too much, and we all ate too much. Yet it was also a cornucopia of good conversation, great laughs, and the best company.
And I loved every minute of it - but maybe not so much the clearing up. Even though my love, along with the rest of the family are very present and helpful there remains one thing conspicuous by its absence today - enthusiasm. I'm beat.
But I am also humbly 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."
©2014 April Hoeller