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an early giving of thanks

Grocery shopping as life lesson – welcome to Cabbagetown. The first time I ventured into the Parliament Street No Frills, in 1986 on our arrival here, I thought it must be like a shop in downtown Beirut – chaotic, bombed-out, abandoned. It has since become more upscale, but not much. Today, with my basket of French cheese, fresh raspberries, garlic, pork chops and endive, I stood in line behind a First Nations man and his silent, hooded female companion, who were buying one box of Kraft Dinner and a small carton of milk. I stood there for quite some time, because they were paying in carefully doled-out pennies and nickles, plus eleven cents for two plastic bags – “one for the garbage,” he explained to her.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, it is always good to be reminded, once again, of just how much we have to be thankful for. There’s a woman in my Tuesday Ryerson class who fled Iran with her husband and two boys during the revolution. They gave their life savings to a man who promised to ferry them immediately to Canada, and ended up living for 27 months in a village in Turkey, wondering if their money would last or if they’d starve, and if they’d ever reach the promised land. In yesterday’s essay, she wrote about gazing through the window of their tiny room, imagining that she was looking out at Canada, walking for the first time in snow, seeing her footsteps imprinted behind her. Finally, she and her family made it here.
“Did Canada live up to your expectations?” someone asked.
“Oh yes, yes,” she replied. “I love this country. This is a beautiful country.”
With thanks to Canada, which for once, since the advent of the piano-playing grinch Stephen Harper, did the right thing toward its refugees and let this family stay. Even if it has not helped to provide more than Kraft dinner for my friend at No Frills.
I have ordered a twenty plus pound turkey from St. Jamestown Steak and Chops on Parliament Street, where we’ve been buying turkeys, and much else, since 1986. My mother and Aunt Do are coming for Thanksgiving from Ottawa, my kids from across town, various friends of mine and theirs. They’ll all take away a little packet of leftovers. How I look forward to this gathering, the first since my mind-altering journey abroad – family and friends gathered around our table to eat a fine Canadian meal with a bit of No Frills French cheese afterwards. It doesn’t, as I am wont to say, get better than this. Lucky, grateful, blessed.
P.S. Speaking of lucky, grateful and blessed, I bade farewell yesterday to my dear friend Bruce, and now am bereft. Hurricane Bruce, as he has been named, forced me to completely excavate and rearrange my office, so now it’s a decluttered sparkling new workplace. We spent a glorious evening listening to his favourite selections from Bach’s B Minor Mass and St. Matthew Passion. He bought me new RAM and installed it, and crossed off a long list of technical things to do with the computer, the TV and the DVD player. This is a man who enjoys reading electronics manuals. Can you imagine? So he reads them and fixes things up and leaves little notes with a simple explanation for my moron mind on how things work.
He says when he retires from his job as Musical Director for the Art’s Club in Vancouver, he is thinking of travelling around, staying with friends in exchange for technical expertise. Book your time with Hurricane Bruce now.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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