PLUS: Come back to daddy
Yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving, which
always takes place on the second Monday in October. I can already hear everyone tittering condescendingly about our sad, off-kilter and irrelevant Canadian habits and how we’re just so obviously and sycophantically trying to be American, like little brother checking his pee-pee, then peeking at big bro’s, and wondering, “when will MINE look like a hibernating muskrat?”
Not any more, darling. Not after the Caligula-level shitshow of the last four years. It’s long past the time when Canada looked on the United States of Fuckery as anything other than the dying gasps of catastrophically failed hard-core individualism and a tacky, Las Vegas-style imitation Fall of the Roman Empire, minus anything interesting in the sexcapade department, Americans being descended, as you may recall, from Puritans and pioneers.
Scrub the color from that stained glass and raise that barn! We ain’t got time for the devil’s work, there’s soap to be churned, hallelujah! (an attitude that still guides public school policy when it tries to subsidize “frills” like art or music. Betsy DeVos, current Secretary of Education, who owns five yachts, I guess in case she forgets where she put the other four, is undeniably the poster girl for a no-frills lifestyle). American sex scandal is the Shaker chair of pleasure and just as hard on the ass, the better to repent not just after, but during, your fall from grace.
But as Camille Paglia has pointed out, it’s taboo that makes for titillation, and the more taboo it is—you can finish that thought yourself. Or just ask Jeffrey Epstein, before he was caught, that is, and suffered that unfortunate involuntary assisted suicide. (C’mon, you don’t really think he killed himself, do you? Oh, naive one!)
Americans bluster about Manifest Destiny, their divine right to manspread and bully their incontinent way across the continent, while Canadians look on with the bemused, interior superiority of the inferior. Take American Thanksgiving, that obnoxious, self-serving fable about Puritans, turkey dinners, conquered “Indians,” (translation: simpletons and savages distracted by worthless trinkets and yearning to be “civilized”), gun-totin’ mammas and pumpkin pie. Sufferin’ succotash!
Sorry, bud. Canada was there first. From The Canadian Encyclopedia:
The first Thanksgiving by Europeans in North America was held by Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew in the Eastern Arctic in 1578. They ate a meal of salt beef, biscuits and mushy peas to celebrate and give thanks for their safe arrival in what is now Nunavut. They celebrated Communion and formally expressed their thanks through the ship’s Chaplain, Robert Wolfall, who, according to explorer Richard Collinson,
“made unto them a godly sermon, exhorting them especially to be thankefull to God for theyr strange and miraculous deliverance in those so dangerous places .”
And because we Canadians only nominally had slavery, just enough to, as it were, keep up with the Jeffersons and Madisons and Washingtons, we upped the ante in the Indigenous genocide department. Work out for me, on whatever moral scale you dare to construct, who gets the halo:
- the white American rationalist, Deist, enlightened enslavers of Africans bought like cattle, erudite men who gave the French Revolution its template and crafted a Constitution whose best paragraphs inspire and guide every democracy, and whose economy was built on the foundation of the forced labor of an enslaved people, and whose society to this day runs on the presumption and principle of white supremacy;
- the white Loyalist-Canadian torturers of First Nations and Métis children, who were separated from their parents and often from their siblings, dressed in western clothing and imprisoned by Sir John A MacDonald, our first Prime Minister, and other white architects of what is called, in the kind of bland committee-speak that hints at the unspeakable, the “Residential School System.”
As inmates of these institutions, those children were beaten, sexually abused, indoctrinated into Christianity and forbidden to speak their own languages. The fall-out from this genocide can still be seen today, in every Canadian city, in every Indigenous suicide, disappearance or unjust incarceration; in the ongoing unhealed and unacknowledged trauma—manifesting as poverty, hopelessness, mental illness and alcoholism—of a conquered and uprooted people.
You can see it in their fierce anger as they occupy their lands, while the white invaders—who insist on enforcing their imperialist laws while they break their own treaties and refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of indigenous land claims—attempt to ram through pipelines, instructing the RCMP to use as much force as necessary against the protestors.
The white invaders call the Indigenous protesters “criminals.”
Tell me who the criminals are. Tell me whose story should be told, whose tongues pierced with needles.
I had great plans about Thanksgiving dinner, as usual.
Holiday dinners, while I was quasi-married to my long-suffering (or maybe more accurately, “suffering just long enough to realize his mistake”) ex-partner, were tense affairs involving weeks of advance agonizing about what dishes would make the most impressive menu, using the rule of thumb that, if it was traditional and/or easy and/or universally loved, I immediately banished it from the short list.
This meant I ended up wrangling a daunting collection of completely unfamiliar, professional-grade recipes, each of which was made of up five sub-recipes, and a list of specialty and quite forensically seasonal ingredients which, seeing as I am not Thomas Keller, would prove to be unobtainable at any market, at any cost. Cue yet more anxiety as I frantically rejigged the menu.
Around five AM, already hours behind in my schedule, I would remember that all of this required plates and cutlery, which I would begin to yank down from the cupboards with all the level-headed competence of a crack-addled single mother who’s just realized she’s left her kids locked in a hot car.
But wait! Not only dishes, but clean napkins and flowers and soda water and alcohol!
And little nibblies for the cocktail part of the evening, which I would spontaneously add to the list of torture-by-recipe. To simply buy a jar of “Nuts ‘n Bolts” like a normal, unpretentious person, dump them in a dish and pass them out with the drinks would cancel out all of the virtue I had accumulated by single-handedly taking on by myself what an event planner would have hired an entire firm to do (probably two firms if you counted cleaning the apartment).
If you’d seen the haunted look on my face at this point, you might have guessed I was going to cancel; in fact, I was probably thinking something like, “I wonder if it’s too late to make spicy chickpeas and skewer them individually on toothpicks?”
This whole boondoggle would then precipitate the one reliable part of my process, namely, a meltdown by me so predictably at three PM you could have set your VCR to record “Days of Our Lives” by it and not missed a single infidelity or shoulder pad.
And all for the purpose of—? I’ll hazard a guess I was proving something, although I still don’t quite know what that something was. Unless it was, “See? Not a loser! I’m just crying ’cause I’m so happy!”
What it was not about was food or friendship or having a good time. Every aspect of my planning seemed calibrated to produce maximum anxiety, as well as a entirely undeserved sense of superiority—a great, big snobbery shortcake.
So to save not so much my sanity—which went missing so long ago its picture occasionally turns up on cartons of milk—but the sanity of those around me, I’ve pared things down a bit. Yesterday a buddy was randomly visiting, so around eight PM I got myself worked up about cooking Thanksgiving dinner, probably because I had just posted a “Happy Thanksgiving” card to Twitter, the septic tank that thinks it’s a smartphone.
On Twitter I dared to ask, because who the hell am I, “What are you grateful for today?”
Because Twitter is a public forum and therefore well suited to grandstanding, I made myself grateful for healthcare.
The model and the technology rewire your brain so that the rigid options they present become a limitation on what you believe is possible. As with my Nikon—”pictures must be sharp!”— so with life. If your experience of healthcare is shaped by a system that privileges the rich and entitled, you’ll start to believe that’s normal.
As proof, there was the attitude of fellow Twitterite who proposed that Trump deserved better health care, being the president and all (i.e. million-dollar experimental treatments and jumping the queue the way Superman leaps tall buildings in a single bound, for the treatment he received is usually a “Hail Mary” effort by ER staff when there’s almost no hope for the unfortunate patient.)
“Why would you think that?” I responded. “The Canadian PM gets the same care as the rest of us. That’s what universal health care means.”
So I’m grateful that I’m Canadian, and not just for healthcare. I’m grateful that we work together to solve problems and that we realize that, without you, I’m nothing, grateful that we don’t need the limelight 24/7, because not only childish, but so exhausting.
And of course, I still wake up every morning intoning, “Thank you, Minerva, Goddess of Canned Flaked Tuna in Broth, Keeper of the Amyl, Patron of the Sibilant “s”, for making me gay.”
I finished my last-minute dinner shopping, eighty bucks later, at nine-thirty, giving me just enough time to not call that friend who might have joined us and to decide that dinner would consist of five scoops of President’s Choice Butterscotch Ripple Ice Cream with a big chunk of Chocolate Cake, the one in the New York Times that you mix and bake in the same dish.
I think it’s called “My Life is Over But I’m Damn Well Going Out With Chocolate Pandemic Cake to Enjoy Making with Your Little Ones Before You Drown Them In the Tub”, but I’d have to check.
And you know what? It was the best fucking Thanksgiving Dinner I ever had.