Every October, my super-sized Dutch prairie family would all flock home to the family farm – overflowing every room and filling acres upon acres with life.
There’d be games of tackle football and kick-the-can.
The adults would filter through wine bottles by the caseload while us kids climbed around on hay bales and fought for control of the TV remote.
Then came supper time; we would all cram into the top floor of the old farmhouse – seated at multiple tables scattered across the living room.
We were an eternally noisy bunch, but when it came to Thanksgiving, there’d be a collective second of silence where our mouths would close and our heads would turn to the grinning patriarch stereotypically seated at the head of the table.
“It’s a sad, sad day for the turkeys,” our Opa would annually proclaim in dramatic fashion.
We’d all agree before devouring the food piled high on our plates.
A lot has changed since the Thanksgivings of my childhood; so much so, I don’t remember the last time I made it home for dinner.
It’s been well over a decade since everyone was in the same room like we had done in such a seemingly easy and routine fashion.
I suppose that’s what happens we people grow up and move away and start families of their own; turkey dinners get smaller.
But last month, Prime Minister Trudeau told Canadians that families won’t be able to gather around the dining room table together at all.
So it would seem a lot of people are in that same gravy boat this year; no loud and crowded Thanksgiving meal for anyone.
I am left thinking that the tides have turned for the birds this year; we are now the turkeys who will have a sad day ahead.
Real turkeys probably aren’t aware of COVID, but I’m sure they’ll have an unusually happy holiday.
Trudeau followed that announcement with the claim the second wave has begun; but with a little luck and discipline, he said, there still may yet be hope to see each other at Christmas.
I know Santa will still come, but as for the rest of what usually come with that holiday season, I’m an optimist who’s not holding their breath.
The only thing that is certain this season is that I feel like the biggest turkey of all.
This second weekend of October will be distanced and lonely… quiet and non-flavourful… no mashed potatoes and stuffing and pumpkin pie (well, anything comparable to my grandmother’s at least).
Ever since I moved to Vancouver and then to Langley, that choice was always wide open; I had the freedom to go back for crowded dinners and catch up on all the family gossip.
But I didn’t. I stayed home.
Many people I know stayed home.
Now, thanks to COVID, we’re all forced to stay home.
In the moment that something is taken away or forbidden, even though you may not have thought about it for eons, you can’t help but think about it…remember it…treasure it.
You yearn for what you once had.
I yearn to hear “it’s a sad, sad day for the turkeys,” but not at the risk of potentially exposing all the people I love.
It will be tough, but I suppose the lesson I learned this time around is that when you have the opportunity to get yourself home for the holidays, take it!
Because you never know what the next year might bring.
And while we won’t be able to sweat over making a completely separate meal to appease the family vegans, or squabble over impending elections, or break out our favourite pair of stretchy pants (because that’s all we’ve been wearing for the past half-a-year already), there is still one thing we can do whilst celebrating Thanksgiving apart.
We can still give thanks for all of the blessings we do have.
Is there more to this story?