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Give Thanks

Gillian Kantor

Monday, October 13, 2008

Today I give thanks for... traditions. As a member of a many-generation Canadian family, we tend not to consider our holidays to be infused with any kind of grand, cultural traditions. Instead, ours are just run-of-the-mill, nothing extraordinary, meat-and-potatoes kind of holidays.
But, to a certain extent, those meat-and-potatoes are our traditions. Any of our family holidays - Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas... even random visits home - are accompanied by huge meals prepared by Mom and eaten around an increasingly large kitchen table (not even a dining room table but just a run-of-the-mill, nothing extraordinary, meat and potatoes kind of table). And around this tradition of gathering for a meal, millions of little tiny traditions abound....
My brother eats most of the mashed potatoes;
There's always a pickle dish with gherkins and pickled onions (most of which get eaten when by whomever is setting the table);
My nephew bypasses the turkey for a plate of buns and butter and peas;
There must - there must - be broccoli casserole;
Wine or punch is served in tiny red goblets;
And pie is the must-have dessert - apple for most of us; peach for my brother-in-law.
There are more. Perhaps they are more idiosyncracies than they are traditions but, nonetheless they are celebrated and appreciated and embraced.
This year will be the second year that my sister and I plus our husbands are in Ontario, while the rest of the family celebrates Thanksgiving in Saskatchewan.  But this year, just like last year, we will be joined with our family in our traditions. There will be a turkey, served with gherkins and pickled onions. We will cook less potatoes, because my brother isn't sitting at our table to eat them. I am making - I must make - the broccoli casserole. And there will be pie for dessert (just apple).
 We will sit around a run-of-the-mill, nothing extradordinary kitchen table. We will eat our meat and potatoes. And we will celebrate family. And traditions. And we will give thanks.

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