When Canadian Thanksgiving vs. US Thanksgiving was suggested as a topic to write about I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I wouldn’t say it is like comparing apples and oranges exactly, but I wasn’t really sure there was anything to say.
Obviously the dates are different. Canadians celebrate the second Monday in October. In the US it is celebrated the fourth Thursday in November. I don’t want to dwell on the history surrounding the day (not because it isn’t important, but there are others much more qualified to do so), but a quick Google search and trip to Wikipedia says Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1578 in Canada and 1789 in the US. Of course Canada wasn’t officially a country back then, so does the earlier adoption of harvest festivals and giving thanks for the bounties of the year really count? Probably not. It also isn’t a competition. Although, I suspect if it was, the US would probably win hands down in modern times.
In my experience, Canada does have its traditions, but nothing like the ones depicted on US TV and in movies with pageants, football and huge family gatherings. Also, it acts as the US’s official kick off of to Christmas cheer and decorations. This side of the 49th parallel we are seriously screwed after Halloween. There is no holiday buffer.
Working in retail for four holiday seasons, I witnessed it kick in as soon as Halloween was over. Holiday music or sparkle ribbon still induces flashbacks. Tying those huge bows around the enormous, fake presents for the displays was a nightmare. We looked like vampires from Twilight, bleeding red sparkles everywhere. Three years later (sweeping up and vacuuming every night), that glitter still haunted us occasionally. The point is, that was a whole extra month of holiday music with nothing to break it up except the hell of trying to compete with US Black Friday sales.
This isn’t a diatribe on the evils of retail though, Black Friday aside, the US Thanksgiving is a time for friends and family and is truly something to celebrate. I don’t think there’s a single television show out of the US that doesn’t feature a Thanksgiving special. When I think about Thanksgiving those are the images that come to mind. I have no first hand experience, but listening to friends from the US, it doesn’t stray too far from the media portrayal of loved ones gathering, feasts being shared and “the big game” being watched.
If I really think about it though, my experience really shouldn’t be a reflection of the Canadian Thanksgiving. I am under qualified. My parents were British. Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday celebrated in England. Neither of them had siblings that lived to adulthood. No aunts and uncles, or cousins my age. Any extended family was distant and on another continent. We didn’t have huge, festive family gatherings. Thanksgiving was not a thing for us.
It didn’t help that my dad’s big annual meeting always started the day after Thanksgiving weekend. The whole weekend was us staying out of the house, or playing the quiet game, curled up on my parents’ bed playing board games while he went over notes and practiced his presentation. He also hated turkey. I think we had a ham usually? I don’t really remember. It wasn’t just another weekend, but it also wasn’t a time of togetherness and celebration. My Thanksgiving wasn’t what it is for most Canadians. Which really isn’t dissimilar to that of the US. A little less football maybe.
Whether you celebrate in October or November, a day that focuses on family, friends and giving thanks for your good fortune, the wonderful people and the experiences you’ve had throughout the year is something worth celebrating.
This is my first official KSI Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to spending it with my newfound online family while they escape to their xbox to avoid family overload and enjoy the Turkey Bowl.