A Cana­dian thing

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Editorial - Andy Barker Andy Barker can be con­tacted at abdp9@hot­mail.com

Another Thanks­giv­ing has slipped by and our Sun­day sup­per, on the eve of Thanks­giv­ing, con­sisted of ri­blets boiled with peas pud­ding and the usual veg­eta­bles. Plus, we had roasted turkey, dress­ing, gravy, and home­made pick­led beets. At Easter and Christ­mas we tend to have a re­peat of that meal.

Our Sun­day sup­per had lo­cal con­nec­tions with my own grown savoury and onions, with the turnip and cab­bage from Wood­dale. Our no­tably de­li­cious car­rots I bought from road­side ven­dor in Deer Lake. Luck­ily, I made a con­nec­tion and had five more bags de­liv­ered on Thanks­giv­ing Day. And the cheese­cake was driz­zled with blue­ber­ries we picked across the river.

My mother’s boiled din­ner quite of­ten in­cluded dough­boys. A favourite of ours was the type she made whole and laid flat on top of the boil­ing din­ner. Once cooked, it came out like a su­per fluffy pizza.

I am now in­clined to use the din­ner stock to make a hardy, ev­ery­thing in it, soup. My mother made a sim­pler soup with the stock that she called lob­scouse. It would in­clude tiny dough­boy, but no toma­toes; lovely. Dic­tionar­ies and recipes on­line will re­fer to lob­scouse as, “sailor’s stew”.

Many are wont to call our New­found­land boiled din­ner a Jiggs din­ner. How­ever, a gen­uine Jiggs din­ner (favourite meal of Jiggs in the Amer­i­can comic strip – Bring­ing Up Fa­ther) is made with corned beef; a prod­uct rarely seen in our stores. Hell would freeze over be­fore a corned beef spe­cial sold out as was the case with the ri­blets spe­cial at Do­min­ion this past week­end.

My first en­counter with a Jiggs din­ner was at St Fran­cis Xavier Univer­sity din­ing hall where at times we would be served corned beef, cab­bage, and pota­toes. Hav­ing eaten so many boiled din­ners in my life, I found that meal a real treat; but for other guys it was a turn your nose up type of sup­per. And it was never served on Thanks­giv­ing.

New­found­land was a Cana­dian prov­ince for only 15 years when I was a fresh­man at St FX in Antigo­nish, Nova Sco­tia in1964. Thus, it was there I be­came ac­cus­tomed to cel­e­brat­ing Thanks­giv­ing; as in New­found­land, up to that time, the event was prac­ti­cally ig­nored as a Cana­dian thing.

The Cana­dian Thanks­giv­ing is cel­e­brated the sec­ond Mon­day in Oc­to­ber. How­ever, the Amer­i­can Thanks­giv­ing is the fourth Thursday of Novem­ber; seem­ingly late in the year com­pared to ours, but it’s their coun­try, their busi­ness. The in­for­ma­tion on the Cana­dian Thanks­giv­ing was so sparse that as a school li­brar­ian (1974-2000) it was dif­fi­cult to find ma­te­ri­als (books, film­strips, videos, teach­ing aids etcetera) that were not Amer­i­can.

The Cana­dian Thanks­giv­ing is rel­a­tively a low-keyed, un­der the radar hol­i­day, com­pared to how the Amer­i­cans cel­e­brate the event with ex­u­ber­ance. Next month Pres­i­dent Trump will be in the news par­don­ing some turkey (not Kim Jung-un) from the chop­ping block. Plus, there will be foot­ball games, the Macy’s pa­rade, and all the hype of be­ing home for Thanks­giv­ing. Be­ing home means it is one of the peak travel times in the USA for air and ve­hi­cle traf­fic.

Amer­i­cans trace their first Thanks­giv­ing cel­e­bra­tion back to Ply­mouth in 1621. Clas­sic por­tray­als of the event show the Pil­grims feast­ing with their in­vited guests, a group of na­tive Amer­i­can In­di­ans. Sadly, that por­trait of peace­ful co­ex­is­tence and kin­ship did not be­come the gold stan­dard guide for re­la­tion­ship be­tween all new ar­rivals and all indige­nous peo­ples through­out the Amer­i­cas.

A less wel­comed as­pect of the Amer­i­can Thanks­giv­ing has spilled over into Canada (and other coun­tries) with Christ­mas shop­ping sales known as Black Fri­day. It’s now more like a week than a day and on­line shop­ping is ever more pop­u­lar. In lat­ter years we have seen in the news Amer­i­cans killed, in­jured, and as­saulted all for the sake of some in­con­se­quen­tial spe­cial. Pi­ti­ful.

Black Fri­day, as the time to be­gin Christ­mas shop­ping, would be wel­comed by the for­mer mayor of Gan­der, Claude El­liott, who last year made the news by re­quest­ing stores to back off Christ­mas sales un­til af­ter Re­mem­brance Day, Nov. 11. El­liott may as well have climbed Mount Pey­ton and spit into the wind as stores have al­ready geared up or are gear­ing up for Christ­mas. Re­spect be damned!

Thanks­giv­ing is a one day cel­e­bra­tion but in re­al­ity, ev­ery day for most of us, is a time to give thanks for things like hous­ing, wa­ter and sewage, food ac­cess, a clean en­vi­ron­ment, med­i­cal care, and per­sonal safety many of which are still lack­ing for bil­lions in the world this very night.

At our sup­per ta­ble the nine of us were asked to ex­press our thank­ful­ness. The an­swers var­ied...but the re­sponses in­cluded the im­por­tance of fam­ily, med­i­cal care, men­tal health, the meal, and be­ing alive.

As for our New­found­land boiled din­ner that we were all en­joy­ing, for the most part it’s still ours, not a Cana­dian thing.

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