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Taking the road less traveled Spending a year in five continents to embrace my "inner turtle", to live simply, and to avoid being shark bait!

Giving Thanks

CANADA | Sunday, 7 October 2012 | Views [271]

This weekend is my first time to experience Canadian Thanksgiving.  The timing of Thanksgiving in Canada (second Monday in October) actually seems more in line with when harvest takes place than US Thanksgiving.  My host family was invited to dinner at a friend's house nearby, and I was invited as well.  (Thanksgiving is technically on Monday but it seems some families have the dinner on Sunday night instead of Monday, which makes sense so everyone can relax since the next day is a holiday.  There's also no crazy shopping the day after like in the US since Christmas is still some time away, thank goodness.)

The friend's home is an old home built decades ago as a hunting lodge, and sits amidst the woods, surrounded by tall trees and Mount Tzouhalem to the east.  The house is simply beautiful: dark wood panels on the wall and staircases, clawfoot bathtubs in the large bathrooms, and tall ceilings both up and downstairs. There is a "great room" and a dining room that was probably used as a "smoking room" in the past for the men after they finished their meals.  A family of five (mom, dad, two young daughters, and mom's sister) live in the house; another sister of the mom is visiting from Vancouver with her two young daughters.  Combined with the four of us (me, and mom and two sons of the host family, dad is away for business), it made for a lively dinner.

Dinner consisted of food identical to a US Thanksgiving dinner:  turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. All the vegetables served were grown in the backyard and included green beans, mashed sweet potatoes, and carrots. Dessert was apple pie made from apples in the backyard also.  My host mom brought a few goodies from her farm: fresh squeezed juice of apples and plums, cauliflower bites, and a salad with red cabbage, spinach, and edible flowers.  This was truly a meal all sourced from local ingredients (the turkey was locally raised too) and organic too!

As we began our meal, the host asked us to each say something we are thankful for.  Wow, where do I even begin?!  So many things popped into my head (my amazing year, my health, the support I've received from my family and friends, list goes on), and luckily I was the last one at the table to speak.  I decided to say something true to the moment, which is "I am thankful for the wonderful people I've met this year, many of whom have opened their home and warmly welcomed me in". And how appropriate it was!  Here I was, a stranger to a foreign country, and this lovely family has included me to join them for this special occasion.  Better yet, I've had the fortune of living with three beautiful families (two in Canada, and Maria in Ecuador) who have all made me feel like a member of their family, instead of just a guest at their house.  Living with these families have also enlightened me on the best way to get to know a country or a region; sure, travel books and websites are very helpful, but nothing makes a better introduction than spending time in a home and getting tidbits that I probably won't get anywhere else.

I am also more aware and appreciative of the food that we were blessed to enjoy at dinner, now that I've had the experience of harvesting them. There is something wonderful about preparing and eating food that I personally picked from the soil with my own hands. There is nothing sweeter than a cherry tomato just picked, and oh, the joy of seeing them on the vine, in a shade of red (not orange or even dark orange) as though it's saying to me "pick me! I'm ready!"  Finally, I am more conscious of wasting and destroying food, so I try to be very careful in where I'm stepping in the greenhouse or in the field; I know the people who have carefully planted the seeds, watered, and cared for the plants, so I want to pay the same amount of care that they gave.

Dinner was most excellent (the turkey was not even overcooked, phew!) and the conversations were lively. Unlike some Thanksgiving dinners where I was itching to go, it was nice to linger, chat, and truly enjoy the company.  Maybe that's the key to a memorable Thanksgiving: have it in a foreign country with mostly strangers!

And since I'm giving thanks, I want to add my gratitude to all the folks who have taken the time to read this journal of mine.  I think I lost a bunch of people since Thailand!  Sometimes I just blurp but hopefully you find at least some interesting things and perhaps even learn a thing or two.  So if you're still hanging in there with me, thank you! 

Tags: canada thanksgiving, local food

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