Mashed Potatoes and Cranberries….

I am bi-country.

I feel some days as if I’m living in both at the same time, especially when I’m writing.  The short stories are set in small town Ontario so in my head, I’m there.  I talk Canadian, I write Canadian, I eat Canadian when I’m working.  But when it comes time to close up the computer, I’m back here.  

And this week, thinking about Thanksgiving.  My second Thanksgiving of 2012. We’ll be spending the afternoon & evening with my in-laws, of course.  Family is why we’re here.  Family can make you crazy, family can make you happy, family can both at the same time, and I fully expect that that’s what’s going to happen tomorrow, a little happy crazy to go with the turkey. Which, when you think about it, isn’t such a very bad thing.  I believe we all need to be stretched a little in our lives – we need to have our comfortable positions challenged just a little so we can look at things from someone else’s point of view.  I have family members – on both sides of the border – who hold strong religious beliefs and I have others – again, on both sides of the border – who do not.  I am a ‘not’ but having the discussions, reasoned and unheated discussions, about faith can be interesting.  Do not bring up Leviticus, however, or you will get a lecture on mixed fibres and eating bacon.

There are family members who are ardent capitalists and some who are more likely to be ‘Green’ or ‘Progressive’ in their political and economic views.  There are family members who disdain books (which makes me cry) and others who celebrate sports as if there was no other past-time (which could also make me cry).  Families are challenging and rewarding at the same time… happy crazy things.  And in my particular case, there are family members who know EVERYTHING there is to know about the one country, and other family members who know NOTHING about the other country, which can make for some interesting conversation in and of itself!

But for all that, I am grateful to have family on both sides of the border.  Even when they disagree with you, they’re there for you. They’ll pick you, dust you off, and there give you a good sound chewing out if they think you deserve it.  And I’m also grateful for that, for the honesty I hope family will always provide.

And with the thankfulness for family, I want to say that I am thankful for friends, those of long-standing, those who are new, and for at least three who are both, in a funny sort of way.  I am also thankful for those whom I have never met but who read this blog & follow me on Twitter, and generally lighten and enlighten my day.   I am thankful for our “children” – Julie Danbolt Ajer (who is no longer with us, but whom we remember almost every day with much love), Bryan Worosz (who just got his first full-time teaching job!!) and Durita a Brugv (my darling girl whom I miss so much).  I am thankful – a word I did not believe I would ever use in this regard – for having and losing two jobs in theatre that I each thought would last for a long time; I learned a lot from bitter experience and while my heart may still hurt over both, my mind is sharper now, I think, because of them.  

I am thankful for the blessing and reward of books and reading, for having received an excellent education (despite wishing I had more!), for the right to debate political beliefs and the courage to not do so when it might hurt others feelings.  I am thankful for great scotch, good coffee, Twizzlers, homemade popovers with strawberry jam, Mozart, Diana Krall, Adele, almost all Warner Bros movies from the 30s and 40s, Harper Lee (I think really, most especially for her), and Norman Jewison. And although I rarely get to drink it, I am also very thankful for Veuve Cliquot champagne.  

I am thankful for the heart full of memories of beloved family gone and dear friends not in our current lives, and I am deeply grateful for the family who still warm my heart – on both sides of the border.

Tomorrow, I gorge on mashed potatoes and cranberries – the best part of Thanksgiving dinner to me.  I love the buttery shmooshiness of good mashed potatoes that just sort of slip around in your mouth and then slide down your throat, and I love the semi-sweet bite and tang of fresh cranberries that have been cooked with a soupcon of sugar, a dash of Cointreau and a few shavings of orange rind.  Completely opposite to each other and yet finding peace and equality on the dinner plate, kinda symbolic of my bi-country life.

If 22nd November is your Thanksgiving, too, enjoy your day. Be safe, have fun, and bet on the Jets.

Gobble, gobble to you all.