Our Canadian Thanksgiving

“Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.”

– Seneca

dsc08446There is a scene from Forrest Gump I think about often. Jenny, Forrest’s long time friend and love interest, comes home after being away for years. Her exhaustion overwhelms her and she sleeps for days. Being home with Forrest gives her a sense of stability and serenity – a place to call home.

My going home to Toronto for Canadian Thanksgiving was nothing like that. There are times I long for that calm that comes with coming home, but I realize this is not my reality. Movies are made for wishful thinking.

Looking out the window along the descent and finally feeling the landing gear touch the tarmac brought tears to my eyes. I don’t exactly know why, but it did. I pulled out the kleenex. The truth is, coming home is always bittersweet. As Canadian artists, Barenaked Ladies, sing, “Am I the only one?”

My family is tight-knit and a source of joy. They are always jovial and talkative. Okay, loud is probably a better adjective. After being away for many years, I realize how sensitive I am to volume. This is the culture and I suppose over time, I have forgotten. I now know that when I return again, I must come prepared. Ear plugs. In my case, one ear plug – haha.

I have come to accept that when we visit, even if we try to sneak in, people have a way of finding out. They all want to eat our visit away, hopping from home to restaurant to more homes where we are constantly fed. There is a saying that Filipinos don’t ask, “how are you?” as you walk through the door; rather, they ask, “have you eaten?”

“Kakain na”- let’s eat. Even when you refuse because you’ve already moved your belt buckle a notch or two, food is still presented in front of you. “No, thank you” is often ignored. I think I gained five pounds. This is the Filipino spirit. I wouldn’t expect it any other way.img_0649-1I am loving my mom’s natural hair color and my aunties are forever adorable! img_0684My Aunt Zuzu woke up very early and prepared a delicious Filipino lunch including fish caught by her cottage.img_0655-1We took a two hour drive to Barrie (because we got slightly lost) to visit my brother and wife at Tail Blazers, then headed to Swiss Chalet. Can it get more Canadian than that? dsc08411

dsc08421So much food at Congee Queen.dsc08422At Lucullus Bakers in downtown Markham where European and Asian desserts collide. What a treat!dsc08428Odd didn’t want to go in the bouncy barn at Whittamore’s Farmsdsc08440…so we admired the bounty of fresh produce instead. Beautiful brussels sprouts!img_0657Hockey is to Canadians as football is to Americans.img_0662

img_0667-1After prayer, we gathered for the big feast. Always grateful for food and family…let’s eat!

Happy Thanksgiving.




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