As Canadians across six time zones go about their preparations for the annual Thanksgiving weekend, an unusual mood permeates the frozen turkey aisles, beer store checkouts, and gas station lines behind the pensioner selecting her scratch-and-wins, bless.
It isn’t overt. It isn’t obvious. It’s a subtle inflection in the glances exchanged between strangers, an unusual closeness to people you don’t know, while still maintaining the minimum two-meter Mandatory Canadian Personal Space Allowance as per the law so many died for in 1812.
It’s an unspoken agreement shared this year by every single one of the 36.29 million people who count as their national symbol the leaf of a nondescript tree that bleeds sugar water every spring like something out of a colder, bleaker version of the Bible. But without a capital ‘G’ god in it because goddammit we stand for inclusion of all peoples and if you don’t like it you can go find your own sugar shack shomewhere shweetheart. Three times, fast. Just try.
Yes, for the first time since 1578, when the explorer Martin Frobisher gave thanks that he’d managed to find a part of North America that Columbus hadn’t already misidentified, all Canadians find themselves united in knowing what they are grateful for on this holiday weekend.
“I am so fucking thankful,” says one mother of three as she exits a Foodland in P.E.I. “Don’t even get me started on how thankful I am because I don’t have time as they were all out of fresh turkeys and I have to get this frozen one home to start defrosting it or we won’t be having bird on Sunday I can tell you that much. So grateful. Everyone knows why.”
Pradeep Patel, of London, Ontario agrees – so quickly he’s answering the question before it’s even finished being asked. “Oh yeah. Yeah this year is about as easy as it gets for giving thanks. Ho boy. Yeah. I mean its more of a ‘what we don’t have thank god,’ than a ‘thank you for this tangible blessing per se,’ but yes. Definite no brainer. Ha. See what I did there?”
In Red Deer, Jim of Jim’s Towing chuckles knowingly. “Oh yep. Sure am. Thankful as a driver who just watched a twelve car pile up on the other side of the grass divide and is just going to pull over right here and have a cry and call his family. I’m that kind of thankful, that’s me.”
Oh revel in it Canada, for our time by the sugar tree is not guaranteed, and even as we gorge ourselves on smushed starch, bird fat, and wine that, ‘almost tastes like its from one of those nice places donchathink,’ ominous currents swirl to the south, and east, and yes the west too, and the north is ok but its starting to get pretty chilly up there. And come to think of it I heard the Russians planted a flag under the pole and the Danes aren’t happy about it so really you’re going to have to mark the north as a ‘yes’ for ominous currents too.
Everywhere is ominous. Picture Vancouver in February when you spent too much on your condo and can’t go to Hawaii. But much, much worse. Like Vancouver on the cusp of losing the Stanley Cup.
So pass the pumpkin pie, and sure if it’s that special bottle of Crown that everyone was lining up for last year I’ll take a double. Oh yes, gather around your tables Canada, raise a glass, and give thanks together for the same reason for the first time ever. And then let’s do this again next year.