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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thanksgiving? What’s Thanksgiving?

I’m writing this specifically for this week’s Carnival of Family Life. The theme was ‘Thanksgiving’, which I felt pretty much dealt me out because we do not practice it in Australia. Then I thought a bit more and remembered I have been lucky enough to experience Thanksgiving first hand and perhaps it might be nice for others to hear a fresh, wide-eyed, non-jaded recount of the holiday.

I should first admit my continuing ignorance, and I’m sure there are fellow Australians who would plead similarly. I knew Canada held the holiday a full month before America, but to be honest I thought, for them, Thanksgiving and Halloween fell at roughly the same time. I had to check Wikipedia to find out the specifics (it’s the third Thursday, who’d have guessed it, in November, apparently, fellow Aussies). All the rest I know of is from the movies: feasts of food with Turkey as the main ‘attraction’, family-get-togethers-and-inevitable-fighting, and lots of decorating in orange and brown hues to symbolise the end of the harvest season*. That’s about it. That’s all I know.

I was in Canada in October 1995, visiting my aunt who was living there for a period. Her friends invited us all around to join their Thanksgiving dinner. I kept quite a detailed travel journal, but unfortunately it’s at my parent’s house, so I cannot go find it to check what we ate. My only real memory of the meal was an entire table filled with foods I had rarely, if ever, eaten before; especially pumpkin pie, which tasted a little funny to me. My greatest emotional memory was of a lovely evening; of warm, fuzzy acceptance and kindness (a small glass of wine helped stoke those feelings too!) This lasted until the food was cleared away and I was shooshed off down to the basement with our host’s teenage son so the adults could have a ‘break’.

I also remember the giant toilet bowls which re-fill almost to the top after every time they flush. I never went to the toilet without the fear that at some point I would cause a plumbing disaster. Our toilets over here use a quarter of the water, I think!


Australia will never have Thanksgiving; it’s not part of our history or culture. Culturally speaking, there is a huge backlash at the growing number of trick-or-treaters who are appearing every Halloween so I can just guess what would happen if we celebrated Thanksgiving. But I think it would be special if we did get to experience it, just once. Our main holiday is Christmas, which is inevitably tied up with the giving and getting of presents. As far as I know, you don’t get presents at Thanksgiving. It’s about giving thanks. We should all endorse that!

Am I right?

*If I’ve fact-checked wrong here in any way, be sure to let me know.

Comments on "Thanksgiving? What’s Thanksgiving?"

 

Blogger Tracey said ... (8:54 am) : 

OMG the toilets! I've never been to North America, but I was taken aback by the loos in a 4star hotel I stayed in in Malaysia once.. and I gather they are the same.

And they DO cause plumbing disasters... one ghastly one of which I was reading about on WouldaCouldaShoulda only I can't find the particular post now.. but judging by all the comments, you need to have a plunger residing permanently in your bathroom!

Maybe we should have Thanksgiving here about the type of toilets we have...

I jest. (and digress). Thanksgiving? Like the concept, but only if it replaced Christmas for the present giving stress! I can't imagine how stressed I would be if I was having to do Halloween, then Thanksgiving.. THEN Christmas, all in the space of a couple of months! Or maybe our Christmas has just gone ballistic because we don't have these others...

 

Blogger scribbit said ... (9:02 am) : 

How funny, I don't think of Australia as being that different from the U.S. (or the other way around rather) but then I read about weird plumbing issues and Halloween backlash and I crack up. Maybe there's a lot more than just the accent going on.

 

Blogger Tracey said ... (11:18 am) : 

Hey! We don't have the weird plumbing !!!! :p

 

Blogger Miscellaneous-Mum said ... (11:54 am) : 

Scribbit, you say it well. Most of the time you don't think there's much of a difference; but on some things there obviously are!

 

Blogger Brit Blaise said ... (2:46 am) : 

I may be jaded, but I think the meaning of Thanksgiving has gotten lost in the mashed potatoes and gravy. Or did someone stick the meaning behind the big screen TV so they could catch a glimpse of it during one of the big games? This is a holiday for everybody but the cook...and chief dishwasher and diaper changer...
I was right...I am jaded!

 

Blogger Miscellaneous-Mum said ... (11:51 am) : 

But you're oh so right, too....

 

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