As a little lad from England, I hadn’t had a thanksgiving before I arrived at U of T. I did know that there were different dates for Canadian and American Thanksgiving and that it would be sooner here. And your Thanksgiving Canada is at a far sweeter time of year.
As a part of St. Mike’s campus, I met a lot of close friends. One of my close friends, Luca, was the very first person I met in one of those ice breakers that happened as a part of orientation. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I went to Luca’s and it was a lovely experience and I’m still grateful for it in my first year in Canada.
The initial atmosphere before the evening was a feeling of calm. I’m sure I was feeling a little busy with bundles of work before, but I felt relaxed instead. Around Canadian Thanksgiving, I associate pumpkin farm visiting and a few weeks before that, the apple picking seasons, as the events that highlight how comforting Thanksgiving can be. I know for many, you’ve grown up with these events but for me, these things were new to me. As an international student, I enjoy picking these things up in a different culture – it’s special. That’s part of what makes us enjoy each other’s company, why we have different stories, and why we see the world differently.
One of the moments I remember was one of Luca’s family members asking me whether I celebrate Thanksgiving or what we have instead. I told him we didn’t have anything, and unfortunately, that wasn’t a good enough answer – he just couldn’t experience a year without it. A year later, I am away from Thanksgiving dinners, and of course, it highlights last year.
For those that are away from family for the first time or more, I ask you to think about your first Thanksgiving or last and what makes the time feel different from other holidays. That feeling is what Thanksgiving has given you, and hold that tight to yourself and one day give it to someone new.