This weekend is our Booboo’s first birthday (post on that coming up). It will also be Canadian thanksgiving this weekend and I have so much to be thankful for.
Canadian thanksgiving is one of two uniquely Canadian holidays that we’ve made the extra effort to celebrate since living in the US (the other one being Canada Day). There is an interesting phenomenon that happens when you move to a new country with a different culture: you need to reconcile your old and new cultures together. As much as you try to fit in at the new place, in some ways you also consciously make an effort to keep your old cultural identity. You actively seek out a connection to the place where you are from.
When I was a kid in Israel I remember some of my friends weren’t allowed to speak Hebrew at home because their parents worried that they’d forget Russian. In Canada I had quite a few friends with a similar Russian-Israeli background that I did. In California I have surrounded myself with fellow Canadian expats. There’s a great Canadian moms group in Silicon Valley that I was lucky to find. We make an effort to celebrate Canadian holidays. We share recipes for butter tarts and Nanaimo bars and even how to make your own Swiss-chalet chicken at home.
We post on Facebook the best places to order turkeys in October and the best poutine places that use real cheese curds. We dress our kids in Canadiana. We can spot the colourful stripes of the Hudson Bay Company a mile away. My family’s ownership of kids apparel by Roots has increased by 800% since moving to the US.
Going to visit Canada is always “going home” even for those who have lived here for years. I remember the first time I went to a Canadian moms playdate when I was a fresh new expat. One of the women I met has lived here for a few years and her two boys were born here in California. When I asked where they are from her son piped up with a “I’m from California!” The mom said “he might be from California but I am from Ottawa”.
I myself may not have been born in Canada but I’m more secure in my identity as a Canadian since arriving in California, where fellow Canadian expats have often accused me of being too Torontonian.
This Canadian Thanksgiving, this expat is grateful for the friendly fellow Canadians that made her feel a little bit more at home in this strange wonderful land. I am really thankful to be surrounded by family and that my parents could come visit all the way from Toronto for this holiday. Finally, I am thankful that as a Canadian living in the USA, I get to have two thanksgiving dinners every year! Yum!