Yes, we’re pretty much masked and vaxed. And, yes, the golds and reds and copper tones of autumn twig memories and longings for fall rituals. But this Thanksgiving—no surprise in this household, at least—is once again taking place in Covidian mode as a lot of folks just don’t feel safe travelling, and a lot of others don’t feel safe having a lot of folks over to munch on drumsticks and scarf down pumpkin pie.
So this Thanksgiving, like last year’s, is pushing us again to rethink the traditional turkey dinner when every chair in the house would be dragged out for loved ones to sit down around a homestyle festive table bursting with food and drink.
First, you may not join up with anyone beyond your household or small bubble. Then you may not even have turkey. Lots of folks don’t anymore for good reason, including philosophy (think vegan, think animal welfare) and ease (pre-made cutlets or a turducken roast anyone?). Or simply because they really never liked turkey, anyhow, so why not shake things up and try a spinach and ricotta lasagna, a nice glazed pork tenderloin, or a Wet-Coast-style salmon, hopefully one that’s been certified as part of a sustainable catch.
However you choose to spend your Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you take a minute or three when you have some precious time to yourself and give some thought to what you have in your life right now to really, truly feel thankful for. It can be too easy these days to feel pissed off or defeated by all the extra frustrations in our lives—the extra decisions to make, the extra extras it takes just to get through basics, safely. Delta? Fourth wave? Ugh! Who needs it?
Even I, the eternal optimist, heaved a big sigh the other day and felt, well, fed up. But then I started thinking, wait a minute, there are tons of things I’m really grateful for right now, and if Thanksgiving isn’t the time to mull over that, I don’t know when is.
So here’s a list, or at least the start of one, for things I feel thankful for. But actually, most of these “things” are people. People I depend on just to live; people far and wide I love; people with skills and talent, and spines of steel who don’t give up when it comes to doing what’s right and just and fair.
To all those people whose names I know, and to all those I don’t, but am totally linked to in our interconnected everyday web of life, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, however you spend it.
We have much to be grateful for, and much more work to do.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to...
• All the people working during these uncertain times at Nesters Market, in The Grocery Store, the Fresh St. Market IGA, Whistler Creekside and every store—the village drugstore, Whistler Hardware—I’ve ever bought food and supplies in, and every restaurant I’ve eaten at. I thank you for being thoughtful and patient while I fumbled with my mask or hand sanitizer, and for going above and beyond the call of duty, cheerfully smiling or sharing a cute one-liner when you tallied my bill or walked me over to the right aisle for the tinned soup. You made my day. You made my hubbie’s day. Bet you made everybody’s day, whoever you crossed paths with, without being cross.
Thank you, thank you to...
• All the amazing farmers and growers working so hard to get your lovely fresh and often organic products to the farmers’ markets and local stores in Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish, the West End—you name it if you’re reading this somewhere else. You’ve faced down a heat dome, floods, uncertain supply chains for everything from seeds to pots, and even pot, and come through with gorgeous, nourishing, tasty food time and time again. I promise you, I try not to waste a speck, and I appreciate your talent, skill and resources for growing food, raising animals, delivering eggs and milk—all things I wouldn’t know where to even start if I had to fend for myself. All the while you’ve had your own worries and frustrations about keeping yourselves and your loved ones safe along with all the pickers, planters and harvesters you need to get food to my table and into my tummy, all safe and sound.
• More thanks to all the amazing caregivers and professionals in our care centres and hospitals. You do your utmost to keep me and my loved ones as healthy and happy as possible. Thanks to the people who hand me a clean mask to wear—for free! And thank you to all those behind the scenes, washing floors, cleaning washrooms, checking the HVAC—all you wonderful hidden souls keeping systems running everywhere. We never see you, but we feel the benefits of your work and knowledge.
• Thank you, thank you, to all the activists young and old (along with the journalists who cover them and the scientists who inform them) who are vocal, persistent, insistent, out in the streets of Berlin, London, Whistler, Penticton, Vancouver—organizing events via 350.org or Fridays for Future, and more, to remind our leaders their job is to lead and enact laws and policies that will stabilize our climate, and protect things like our precious glaciers, including Wedgemount. (I remember it 40 years ago—it was way, way bigger than now.) Thank you to all those toughing it out in Fairy Creek, or surrounding the B.C. Legislature in a sit-in as I write this, demanding our politicians protect the real, old old growth, the valuable stuff with a price tag on its head on the valley bottoms, the stuff the Union Of BC Indian Chiefs has rightly called for a moratorium on harvesting.
Finally, thank you, thank you, to all the Indigenous people of this beautiful place I call home, for continuing to share your knowledge and deep appreciation of the web of the natural world we all depend on for life itself.
We need your voices more than ever, and we’re thankful for the generosity of your thoughtful ancestors that started the first Thanksgiving 400 years ago on the shores of North America.
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who wouldn't know how to survive in the wild if she tried.