Good neighbors

My favorite Americans.

Two hundred years ago, there were neighbors who were friendly enough. Then they looked over the fence at each other and frowned. They argued. They fought. They burned stuff and attacked each other and created a big mess, but it never really resolved anything. So they went back to borrowing cups of sugar and watering each other’s plants, or whatever good neighbors are supposed to do.

Fast-forward to 2012: the neighbors are joined under one roof, and together they’re navigating the ups and downs of a dual-nationality house.

I’m a Canadian citizen. The Man is a U.S. citizen. The Maiden is “half and half,” I always say, though it’s not quite accurate–she’s 100% Canadian and 100% American, and I want her to grow up feeling like she belongs in both countries.

It’s not always easy. Our nations share so many traditions and values that it can be difficult to distinguish between the two; and like many Canadians of my generation, I grew up with only a hazy notion of my own cultural identity.

Ironically, it took moving to the United States a decade ago to make me really appreciate my own heritage and history. In fact, helping the Maiden to become more aware of her roots has helped me to connect with mine.

Did you know that Canadian Thanksgiving–which is held in October–is actually rooted in the old European harvest celebrations? Pilgrims aren’t really part of it; in fact, the first Canadian Thanksgiving harvest celebration occurred decades before the Pilgrims even landed. But the history has been blurred so much over time that I grew up coloring Pilgrim pictures and never knew the difference.

I’m trying to preserve the unique tradition (and denote a difference for the Maiden’s sake) by keeping Canadian Thanksgiving more harvest-oriented. On tonight’s menu are stuffed tomatoes, butternut squash soup, roasted vegetables, cauliflower, and apple/pear crisp. For U.S. Thanksgiving next month, we’ll stick to the “classic” turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie.

Today marks the 10th Canadian Thanksgiving that I’ve celebrated south of the border. It’s an odd coincidence that it also falls during the bicentennial of the War of 1812, a time when Canadians and Americans weren’t quite so friendly as they are today.

That’s why, on this day especially, I’m thankful for good neighbors. I’m thankful for my Canadian family and friends and for all the Americans who have touched my life during the past decade. And most of all, I’m thankful for my two favorite Americans, who are also my two favorite people in the whole world.

Here’s to many more decades of neighborly love.


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