Dear Jimmy, Jeannie, Donna, Alan, and Tootie,

It is Thanksgiving Sunday.

I awoke a bit before seven and could tell from the light in the room the time of day.  Today is turkey day for us as it gives our daughter time to drive back to university on Monday.

today is turkey day.

When I was a child there were several turkey days, but we never called them that.  We called them by their holiday names proper.  Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day,  Easter.   These holidays were the ones  on which my parents would host the big family dinner.

It meant being together.  It meant that love was shown through great food and the care in its preparation.  It meant that someone was up early enough to do certain tasks.   It meant that Dad helped Mom in the kitchen.

Dad has two outstanding contributions to the family’s eating/cooking psyche.  These remain with my siblings and I to this day and like much of the food we ate during our respective childhoods, the versions prepared by my parents remain to this day the gold standard of a given dish.

Apple pie?  Is it as good as mom’s?  How about the chocolate cake?   How about the spaghetti?  Cabbage rolls?  The canning?  If not as good as mom’s, is it any good at all?

Of course, as a man, I have opened up and softened somewhat.   The food in front of me is always worthy of my gratitude now.  It is a rare moment indeed when I will not eat something.   Yet, old habits die hard, and to tell the truth, the idea that my mom did something better than anyone else puts a smile on my face, and she deserves that place in my heart and mind until I eat something that surpasses it.  Even then, her version would still remain a benchmark.  (Mom’s was great, but this is amazing….)

Dad?

Dad left his mark in a different way.  Dad was Hermit cookies.  Dad was Saturday morning breakfasts.  Bacon, hard-boiled eggs, toast, potatoes, and above all, the most amazing stacks of pancakes ever! Pancakes stacked to the ceiling!  Pancakes stacked to the moon!  Pancakes with margarine. Pancakes with syrup.  Pancakes with jam.  Pancakes with butter and brown sugar.   Saturday morning wonderland eating as many pancakes as we wanted, as many ways we could think of with as many hard-boirlt eggs as our hearts desired.  All this punctuated with strips of bacon.  Milk if you wanted it.  I was too young for coffee but I know it was there.  My memory is telling me that maybe there was orange juice (but I do not trust my memory as I once did)

Full bellies and sunshine and a day full of freedom and promise and maybe a trip with the folks somewhere – maybe to Penticton for groceries or maybe to the dump or maybe to Summerland or maybe to the crick, or maybe…

Today is Thanksgiving Day and the old man is with me.  He is with me as I do the one thing that must be handed down and preserved.  The one thing that would be a true shame were it to be lost after this generation.

The stale bread.

The potatoes.

The sausage meat.

The onions,

The hamburger.

The salt.

The pepper.

The sage.

It fills us with comfort and it fills us with delight and it fills us with flavour and it fills us with memory.  Memory enough to recall some sort of innocence and a faith in belonging and togetherness.   A faith in family.

Dad’s stuffing.

The gold standard.

We are now separated by years and lives lived.

We are separated by vast distances.

But I want you to know, my dear sisters and brothers, that as I formed the mixture into balls, as I stuffed the cavities, as I tasted it and fried and boiled and chopped – I thought of you and this shared experience we have, and I looked up from the kitchen sink where I was working and out to the field, and I smiled as  I imagined that on this day, even though we are far apart – and despite our differences – we are together in this.

Happy Thanksgiving ,

 

 

Douglas

 

 

 

 

 

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