Tradition that is not yours

A Canadian Weighs in on American Thanksgiving

Illustration: Heather Pieske

We call it American Thanksgiving. We do so even though we do not necessarily celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving.

Since moving to the Land of the Free, I’ve realized that “American Thanksgiving” is actually the perfect name for it. Not only does the holiday embody all of the American excesses we Canadians dream about, it also embodies excesses that we are unable to fathom.

My first observation on the phenomenon that is American Thanksgiving, was at a friend’s house in rural Pennsylvania. It was my freshman year of college. We shared a penchant for overeating, and she was eager to be my cultural ambassador for this event.

My sharp memories lie in the beautiful train ride over; pulling up to the stately home; the football—how American!; the commentary on my national origin.

My blurry memories lie in the food. Specifically, in the marathon eating of carbohydrates I had either never eaten before or never eaten in such massive quantities.

A new experience is never without its discoveries, and here were mine: I discovered that I don’t like turkey. I discovered that the relatively postmodern tradition of two Thanksgiving meals—one at 3pm at my friend’s mom’s house, the next at 7 pm at her dad’s—could make the untrained Thanksgivinger sick.

I discovered: this is not my holiday.

Pamela Takefman is a Canadian living in New York.