Keeping the house, the kids and the hubby without breaking the bank, the earth, the people I love, or myself.

I Miss Thanksgiving

Oh, it's true. There is a Thanksgiving in Canada. It's really just another holiday Monday. Here, people are having yard sales and washing their cars, mowing their grass, attending craft festivals (apparently a Thanksgiving tradition in these parts) or even catching up the laundry on Thanksgiving. That depresses me. If there's a meal, it's just another meal. No big deal. Families don't come together. It would be too much trouble for just another Monday holiday. And Canadians are utterly baffled by the huge deal that Thanksgiving is in the states.

It's true --- in America, Thanksgiving is a Very Big Deal. It's THE big family holiday in the states. Families go to great lengths to be together. I wonder some if the holiday's popularity is a result of its placement at the end of a week as opposed to the beginning of a week as Canada's is.

If there is one thing I get homesick for it is Thanksgiving . I want so many people crammed into a house that you're bound to step on toes, bump into people, spill gravy on your neighbors and shout to be heard. I want twelve people in a kitchen trying to use 4 burners on a stove to heat 14 things. I want so many children underfoot that you don't even notice when they've stolen a plate full of cookies and devoured them long before the turkey(s) get carved. I want at least three disputes before anyone has left for their own homes. I want at least 4 people snoring in the living room after the meal is done waking suddenly when the football game is turned off to say "HEY!! We're watching that! What are you doing?" In my world, if there are fewer than 30 people or 15 desserts, it's really not Thanksgiving.

In my own rather large family we would all get together at one house. Everyone would chip in with the meal -- helping to prepare the meal or bringing prepared dishes. We had the standards: turkey, dressing/stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy (usually mom made this -- I still can't make it!), a couple different cranberry sauces, succotash, cottage cheese and pineapples suspended in extra-jiggly green Jello, several pumpkin pies and usually a cheesecake or two, along with whatever new recipes someone wanted to try out. One year I was responsible for bringing the succotash (which is baby green lima beans and corn in a milk and butter sauce). I had never purchased this. I had never prepared it. Much to several people's horror, I showed up with mature (white, large, dry) lima beans and frozen corn and nearly ruined the meal!

Many years ago, my father started the tradition of sending around a stenographers notebook to have everyone write down what they were thankful for. There were just too many people to simply announce our gratitude at the table. Gaining full attention from this crowd would have been as easy as keeping my oldest brother out of the turkey later that night! The item most frequently expressed on those pages was family. While my family -- like every family -- has its quirks, I surely am thankful for them. I deeply miss this ritual of excess. Along with the overabundance of gastronomical delights, our homes were filled to bursting with merriment, fellowship, laughter, noise, and especially love. How could I not miss it and all of us together?

We haven't gotten together for Thanksgiving since 2003. It was my father's last Thanksgiving. I don't know whether he was the glue that held this family's traditions together or if the pain of his loss is still so acutely felt that a family gathering would renew that soul-scaring grief. It's true, we are scattered about the world a bit, but I think we could do it. I'm in Canada, my brother's in Colorado, two sisters in Pennsylvania, Mom and oldest brother are in southern Ohio, nephews in various states. I still think we could manage, though we probably need to start planning now.


Tough Times All Over

You know we're in an economic crisis. You know people are getting laid off in droves. You know the prices of everything have gone up. It's no wonder food banks are reporting that they're running out of food. Usually at this time of year, giving goes way up as people feel the need to give during the holidays. It seems everyone's feeling the pinch as more people are in need and fewer people are giving.

So, while I pinch pennies and stretch my grocery dollar as far as it can possibly be stretched, I'm making it a point to donate to the food banks every time I shop for groceries. If everyone just put one or two items in the donation bins at the stores, can you imagine how far it would go?

Oh, the things we could do . . .


Veterans Day / Remembrance Day

Today we take a moment to remember those who've either given the ultimate sacrifice for peace or have served beside those who did.

I have a long list of family members who have done so.

My grandfathers on either side served in World War I. Though my maternal grandfather was too old to serve overseas, he took his position in the home guard very seriously.

My father served in World War II in Italy. He was but a boy. Luckily, he survived. As did his brother, who was among the men of the US Army at The Battle of the Bulge. Another Uncle was at Iwo Jima. Uncle Bob (the last one mentioned) left his youth, his health and his vigor on Iwo Jima. He was so severely shell-shocked after that battle that when he was released from the Veteran's hospital in Hawaii after his recovery, the police arrested him for drunk. He wasn't drunk. He was terribly injured, hadn't managed balance yet and would forever remain a bent man. He passed away only last year.
My mother served in the Air Force during the Korean War.

One of my sisters is a veteran of the Army Reserves.

My brother served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is thankfully safe on American soil at long last.

Two of my nephews have served. One in the Marines during the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom. He's now in the Army!

We lost a cousin in Vietnam, a man I'll never know.

And to all those who have served and sacrificed, thank you.


The People Have Spoken

Thank you, America!

Now, let's just get to work.


I Can Hardly Wait 'Til This Time Tomorrow

When the votes are counted and we finally know!

I was surprised to learn today that one of my brothers will vote for McCain. Actually, all of my brothers will probably vote for McCain. The two oldest ones because they're racist. Simple fact, folks -- they are. My little bro, though...I always thought him a thinking man. I viewed him as the type to find information on his own and sort it out for himself. But, he's going the way of the military man. I hope it's just a military thing and none of the lies he's heard from McCain's campaign.

None of them of course have talked to me during the campaign or about the campaign. Perhaps it's that my politics are too well known.

Politics aren't a reason to divide a family, though, and they don't.

I do, however, get incensed when people (my mother) say things like "I tell you one thing. I won't vote for that damned Muslim!" WHAT? How loud must we shout it from the rooftops? When you're dealing with that kind of small mindedness, there is no evidence or argument you can present to educate a person.

Most, if not all, of my sisters will vote for Obama. Isn't that interesting? Men against him, women for. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that I have 4 sisters and only 3 brothers. (YAY!) Our five votes beat your four. Neener neener neener.

Oh, and mom, if it's really that you just can't vote for "that damned Muslim" and don't feel so good about the other guy either, go ahead and vote for Nader. :D

My eldest sister and I were talking the other day about what an Obama presidency would mean. We were discussing how it always takes a Democrat to fix the budget shortcomings and damages that the Republicans do when in office. It happened after Reagan, when Clinton went in and paid off our spiraling out of control national debt and deficits. It's going to happen again now with Obama. And we discussed just what it means to be African American in America and have an African American president. Do you think things will be so different from how they are now? Sadly, I don't. I do think that it will be the first step of many in ending the thoroughly entrenched anti-colour racism in America, but it will not eradicate it in the next four years. It won't end the 'good ole boys clubs' that are the CEOs of nearly every company in the US and the trickle down advantages that power lends to people of a paler persuasion.

Go ahead and say it. That's right. I'm so white I glow in the dark. It's true. I have two biracial children and was married to an African American man. I saw it when he was laid off from his job for lack of work when he took out 40 -- that's right -- FORTY resumes to companies that were hiring for jobs that he was perfectly qualified for to be turned away. He'd say he didn't want to apply for work in such and such town that they were too racist. I wouldn't let that stop me. No. I couldn't believe my country was still so backward. This was the 1990's. It's not true, I said. You go. You apply. You watch what happens. And we did. After two months with no income, he had no choice but to apply for and accept the one position where he was given an offer. What was it for? A cleaner. Sure. It's perfectly acceptable to hire a person of colour for a service position. (The other positions were labor jobs all things for which he had experience, nothing that would change the world.) Then I'd hear it, too. Because of my own race, ignorant people assume I am as ignorant as they are. They would tell me things like, "oh, you don't want to live in that neighborhood ..... " and they'd look around to see who was within earshot and tell me, in a conspiratorial whisper: "there are a lot of blacks there." Wow. I always enjoyed the looks on their faces when I would whisper back in the same conspiratorial tone: "Really? That's awful! I'm married to one of them, too!"

People like that make me ashamed of my own heritage.

I think in ten years, women, blacks, and all other people of colour in the states will still have to work 10 times as hard, achieve 10 times as much, go through 10 times the rigorous proving trials to be judged half as good as their white counterparts. Why is that? You've got the Southern diehards who still cling to the racial hierarchy of slavery times. You've got the wealthy white elitists who still view anyone not of their class as lesser people. You've got the media. I think it is the biggest culprit. You can watch any newscast anywhere in the United States at any time and simply see how much video time is dedicated to showing black criminals and how little video time is dedicated to the white ones. The white criminals reported in the news are clearly "alleged," minimal images are flashed for their stories, and very little airtime is given to those stories. Instead, the focus goes on black crimes/criminals. The message is clear: fear the blacks.

Those of you who only visit the states occasionally, pay attention to the newscasts and you'll see how the media supports the racism in America. I find Canadian news refreshing. Everyone gets equal billing if they're committing crimes and actually crime reporting isn't given the devoted attention it here that it is in the states. There is more positive news reporting here, more current events, more of a world view given to even the local news than anything you could ever watch in the states. Also, all the news reporters don't come from the same package. I love that! Though it's still old white men who have the top anchor spots, you see women of every shape and colour in top spots as well. I love that there are technically overweight newswomen. I don't think that's even possible in the states, though I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

I know I've gone down the garden path tonight. The brain is engaged and just rambling along till we get those numbers in about 23 hours. I'll go ahead and try to sleep now.

If you're American, GET OUT AND VOTE tomorrow! Just do it.


About This Blog

Saving money. Saving graces. Raising children, husbands and, sometimes, cats. Laughing. Living. Thinking. Doing. Life in the Niagara Region of Ontario.

About Me

I am a happily married woman with four children and various cats and kittens (fosters). I love to read and my favourite authors are George RR Martin, Thomas Hardy, Raymond Carver, PD James, Kurt Vonnegut, J. K. Rowling, and Margaret Atwood. I know there are only three women in that list (and none of them American), so if you'd like to suggest some I'm willing to give them a shot! And yes, I am an American living in Canada. (Hence the nick -- CannedAm.) I like it here. There are things about the states that I miss, but my love is here and this country has things to offer that my own does not. Things that make my quality of life much better than it ever was in Ohio. Guess I'm stuck here. Though there's a nice spot in the Appalachian hills where I'd love to spend my retirement.

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