Down Canadian Roads Part 13, Vancouver Island to Mono, On.

Grade 8, Wedgewood School, Etobicoke, On. 1955. Find John Ito and Deanne May

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Look who’s coming to Thanksgiving dinner!

Turducken! Take a medium sized chicken, stuff it inside a large duck, then take the duck with the chicken inside and stuff the two inside a large turkey. Turducken! This is just one of the culinary outrages originating in the land south of our southern border at Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday time. This is value added?

Not content to stick to the tried and true traditional oven-roasted turkey? Why not bathe the 20 lb. beast in a bath of scalding hot oil? Better yet let’s make a movie out of the excesses of the holiday season combined with the feelings of goodwill in the holiday season. Burn down a house or two when a deep fried turkey is incinerated taking with it the residences of two feuding neighbours. But then National Lampoon has already successfully exploited that bit of holiday hyperbole. This sure-fire, festive, 4 F formula: food, family, fire and friends is guaranteed for laughs around the fireplace in the holiday season! To complete this  modern Norman Rockwell meets Chevy Chase tableau, add a sound track of Bing Crosby and Rosemary “Crooney”:

“Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays

For no matter how far away you roam

When you long for the sunshine of a happy face

For the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home.”

This Thanksgiving we found ourselves over four thousand kilometres from home. What would we do to celebrate family and friends around a large table sagging under the weight of food? Displaced from home and without the normal access to media, and liberated from Bing Crosby and Rosey “Crooney” and deep fried terduckens, we decided to celebrate an anniversary of sorts: fifty years since we had our first Thanksgiving together. This glorious event had taken place in 1962 in the cafeteria of the Toronto Grey Coach Lines, a central meeting place at the terminus of the Grey Coach Lines between Oshawa to the east and Etobicoke to the west. The Thanksgiving fare in October 1962 had been hot turkey sandwiches, chocolate milkshakes and the inevitable pumpkin pie. In our planning  for the 2012 trip, we had anticipated the hot turkey sandwich which we would order to replicate the experience of fifty years ago. At the Grey Coach Lines we would rediscover the hard times of those days and the insecurities that had dogged our relationship. We would briefly give up the easy bourgeois comforts we now had, a home and income enough to indulge our modest desires. We congratulated ourselves that we would not impose our presence on others at a time when family matters come to the fore.

John and Elaine Ito  however, made a happy intervention with an invitation to lunch on Thanksgiving day.

With the Grey Coach Lines cafeteria disappearing in the rear view mirror of our rented Ford Escape, we headed north and west of Toronto to the Orangeville-Mono area for lunch. The extended Ito family would be there. We would have a chance to see some of the family whom we had not seen for over 50 years. We would spend a couple of hours with these longtime family friends of Deanne and her parents and later probably we would have supper back in Toronto at the Grey Coach Lines cafeteria.

The anniversary thing, half a century of Thanksgiving days together was stuck in our minds, the rags to riches, hard times to good times fifty year trip.The penury to comfort in fifty short years aspect to our Ontario return was still embedded in our plans.

We were not however, fated to do the contrived Grey Coach thing. Having supper with disconnected transients on the move from somewhere to somewhere else, dining with loners and the socially disconnected was clearly not in the cards. The symbolic thing, the fifty year anniversary thing at the Grey Coach Lines cafeteria was still in the rear view mirror as we approached Toronto early evening and there in the rear view mirror it would remain.

Elaine’s gesture, the circle of holding hands before the meal of Thanksgiving is a reminder of how fortunate is (s)he who is strongly connected to good people. We spent the rest of the Thanksgiving day among caring, welcoming people in an ambiance of great warmth, quite satisfied that some may have their terducken bathed in, totally immersed, deep-fried in hot oil, we were full of the joy of good food in the company of welcoming people.

To the two Davids, Darlene, Shawn, Crystal and Garrett, Gladys, Mike, whose heaven is populated also by faithful dogs, and to our hosts, Elaine and John, our sincere thanks for a yummy and memorable Thanksgiving. Thanks also for the seeds from your garden which will be added to our garden next year and which will undoubtedly be part of the Beautiful Disorder of Abundance. (See filmstrip of some of garden produce for 2012 below).

For Elaine’s dinner-time request to point out facets of our life which we take too easily for granted we should acknowledge especially at Thanksgiving:

The beauty and duration of summer 2012
-The quality
and abundance of the home grown produce
-The elements of the natural order which we call climate
-The beauty
and expanse of our Nation which we saw in all its glory on our visit to Ontario and our rail trip back to the West Coast
Our Country, a Country open to change, glad of its past but not hide-bound to that past
The institutions of our Country
-The continued motivation and the continued ability to work at something even at a time of age-ordered physical decline
-Intellectual social and spiritual growth especially at an advanced age
-Gentle people in our world who inoculate us against cynicism and despair

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