A Canadian’s American Thanksgiving

“You’re Canadian, right?  From Canada.”

“Right,” I replied.  “And right again.”

My neighbour from across the street continued, “So you celebrate two Thanksgivings, right?  One at home and one here in Florida.”

“Right again,” I smiled.  “On both counts.”

“Well then, I sure hope you got enough to be thankful for,” he said as he sauntered away.

I found myself thinking about that as I lay barely awake in bed this morning, long before dawn, wishing I were still asleep.  In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of every October, and this year we had gathered, as usual, with our two daughters’ extended families—numbering twenty-two with our granddaughters’ boyfriends added to the mix.

I first dated my wife when she was a lissome lass of sixteen, and neither of us ever went with anyone else after that.  For sixty years, we have celebrated Thanksgivings together, and once upon a long time ago, hosted the family events.  But we are honoured elders now, along with the other grandparents, and at our age, find the celebrations a tad tiring, if still wonderfully joyous.  When someone asked what we are thankful for this year, we agreed on the big five—our family, our friends, our two homes, our financial security, and our continued good health.  And then we raised a glass to the hope they will continue for some time to come.

American Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of every November, some six weeks after ours, and so, being in Florida by then, we celebrate it, too.  More quietly, though, as if somewhat apologetic (as Canadians are wont to be) for our privilege and good fortune.

As I lay abed this morning, pondering these thoughts—half-awake, wanting to be asleep—I could sense more than see my wife beside me.  Both of us were lying on our backs, she snoring ever so gently—as I had likely been doing, too, before stirring.  And it slowly dawned on me that we were holding hands, our fingers loosely interlaced by our sides.

I smiled quietly into the darkness of the pre-dawn bedroom, acknowledging, not for the first time, that this is what I am most thankful for.  No matter where I am.

Happy Thanksgiving!

So Wrong!

Pandemics are awful, I’ve had a craw-full,
So many still shut in alone.
Lonely and cut off, they’ve worked their butts off,
Miserable, clear to the bone.

Tough though it may be, they strive to be free,
Rid of the pandemic wave.
Emerging all bright-eyed into good health-side,
Evading the forbidding grave---
Saluting good health with a wave.
People are crying, all of them trying
Against all odds to be well.
Like a great hero, reducing to zero
This virus’s terrible spell.

Tell me it’s over, we’ll soon be in clover,
Really, it’s been way too long!
Everyone’s ready, trying to hold steady,
Each of us praying to be strong---
Sadly, this is so wrong!

You’re So Vain

This week’s prompt from my Florida writers’ group is to write a story, fewer than five hundred words, for STROLL, a local publication.

A friend I met sixty-five years ago in high school will soon celebrate his eightieth birthday, as I will shortly afterwards.  We stood up for each other at our weddings, and I did that again at his second wedding, a few years after his first wife passed.  He named his first son after me.  I have two daughters, neither of whom is named for him, but they love him dearly.

A long-since retired art teacher, he is a painter of some renown, with water-colours hanging in the homes of several distinguished collectors, including the recently-crowned King Charles III.  Likewise retired, I am the author of eighteen books of fiction, with worldwide sales numbering…I don’t know, in the hundreds?  Maybe?  Anyway, both of us garner numerous hits on various search-engines.

My friend was always a personable and handsome man, and he knew it.  In our younger years, it used to be said of him that he never met a looking-glass he didn’t like.  Mutual friends would joke that he’d never be alone as long as he could find a mirror.  When we’d stroll downtown together, I’d laughingly reproach him for constantly checking his reflection in storefront windows.

“It’s never going to get any better,” I’d chide.  “Gravity wins!”

He’d flash his trademark crooked smile.  “Yeah, but we don’t have to let it pull us down, right?”  And he’d steal another quick glance at the window.

I met my friend for coffee at The Forum the other day, and as I was parking, I saw him waiting on the sidewalk for me, studying his image in the restaurant’s plate-glass window.  Indeed, I saw myself growing larger in that same reflection as I walked over to join him.

Clapping an arm around his stooped shoulders, I crooned an off-key variation on a Carly Simon hit from days gone by—You’re so vain, you prob’ly think you look amazing…

Leaning into me, he chuckled ruefully.  “Yeah, once upon a time, I guess.  But d’you know what I was thinking just now, watching you come up behind me?”

“Let me guess,” I ventured.  “You were probably hoping this weird-looking old guy approaching you would spring for coffee today.”

“Not a bad idea,” he laughed.  “But no, I was actually thinking how happy I am to see you.  The day is coming when one of us will be staring at a reflection like this, and the other one won’t be there.”

“There’s a happy thought,” I said.  But, alas, I knew it to be true.

For several moments, both of us examined our images in the glass—slightly bent, frailer than we’d like, each leaning a little on the other.  When we turned to hug one another, it was a long hug.  A moist-eyed hug.

And then we went for coffee.  My treat.