“Slanted rays and colored days, stark blue horizons” — Gordon Lightfoot, from “Pussywillows, Cattails”
Thanksgiving in Canada is just around the corner. It’s a joyful time of year when we gather with our families and celebrate the fall harvest. It’s our last big color-filled fling before winter spreads its coat of white over fields and farms, country vistas and city streets alike.
Before we drag out woolly hats and mittens and hunker down in front of fires with warm, spicy cider or huge mugs of soul-satisfying hot cocoa topped with marshmallows and chocolate curls.
Between now and Christmas, we’ll be pulling out our long-underwear, winter parkas, toques, and tire chains. Learning again how to drive in freezing rain and zero-visibility snow storms.
But before we say goodbye to warm weather, we can still enjoy these last fine days.
And, believe me, we’re thankful for that, too.
Soon, the sky will change from its bright summer hue to a deeper shade. Ponds and lakes reflect back cobalt and navy. Green rushes fade, shading to silver and fawn.
All too soon, the trees will be stripped of their glowing colors.
Russet and gold, chestnut and silver, the leaves will flutter and swirl in the winds of autumn, to fall at last, mounded against curbs and margins, crunching underfoot.
Cotoneaster hedges add splashes of scarlet and purple to the mix, glowing bright against the huge tan and silver-sage offerings dropped from the poplar trees.
Grass-choked ditches are home to frost-kissed wild rose bushes, glowing scarlet and amber in the slanting rays of golden light.
And we gather together to share a special meal with friends and family.
We give thanks for another year.
For the crops brought safely in. For our loved ones safely home.
It’s a time for reflection and celebration, and for counting our many blessings. A time for eating too much roast turkey with all the trimmings. And pumpkin pie. A time for playing games and singing songs. For re-telling the old family stories and catching up on new ones. For celebrating new members and remembering loved one who have gone on ahead.
One of our family traditions, in place of the regular blessing, is to ask every person at the table to name one thing for which they are thankful. Everyone is required to offer at least one thing, from the smallest to the oldest.
The answers have ranged from funny to profound, from gratitude that no-one had made five-bean salad that year (a nephew, age seven), to sorrow over a friend’s recent passing yet abiding thankfulness for their many years of friendship (an elderly family friend), to being grateful they’d learned how to drive (a teen-aged niece)and had a job to pay for gas (the teenager’s parent).
But everyone is required to share one thing.
And listening to the answers as we go round the table, we’re all reminded of our many blessings. Of things we’d not thought of as blessings, perhaps — like a son or daughter learning to drive — but which gives them such joy and independence, and grown-up responsibility.
And even though we’re not anywhere close to a perfect family, no-one would ever mistake us for the Waltons, we cherish these times together. Even to rubbing elbows with some less-favorite relatives, who are nonetheless still a part of the family circle. And as we share love and fellowship, and practice tolerance towards those family members we’d really rather hadn’t showed up, it makes us the better for it — bigger hearted, kinder.
So, in the spirit of thankfulness for the friends I’ve met here, and the many talented writers I’ve been privileged to read and show support, I wish all of you a safe, happy and blessed Thanksgiving, from my home to yours.