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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 10.09.11
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

I thank, therefore I am. Canadian.

As holidays go, Thanksgiving has never really taken off. And by "taken off," I mean I don't recall any Thanksgiving presents coming my way, so that's not much of a holiday, is it?

Nor do I remember presenting my parents with adorable handmade Thanksgiving cards for them to deposit along with the other treasured mementos at the shrine to their youngest, most precious child, so how special could it be?

There are no Thanksgiving songs, no arcane Thanksgiving desserts (I'm talking to you, plum pudding!), no heartwarming Thanksgiving stories, although there was the time we invited Brad Pitt to dinner, even though he really hated Rachel in high school, and then Joey ate the whole turkey himself, and... oh, wait, that was an episode of "Friends." Never mind.

There's no artificial sentiment around Thanksgiving, no overwrought pageantry, no frenzied shopping. (American readers, please disregard.)

But because of the lack of superficial trappings, could Thanksgiving be, in fact, the last true and pure holiday?

Perhaps this has to do with Thanksgiving's cold Scandinavian roots. As everyone knows, Thanksgiving is named after the Norse god Skïvink, to whom the people would offer appreciation each autumn for not tainting their elk milk curd, or tvörkeyjees. As the people gathered round, desperately clutching their umlauts to stay warm, the elder elk herder would cry out, "Thank Sk&ikukml;vink and pass the tvörkey." And then everyone would partake in the traditional Scandinavian kvetching, followed by a long nap.

At the heart of Thanksgiving (along with eating to excess, which is important for storing up fat for the long Nordic winter) is the gracious and underutilized act of giving thanks. I for one (and my children for four more) don't say "thank you" nearly enough. We also don't say "panache" as much as we'd like to, but that's a lament for another day.

That's the beauty of Thanksgiving. It allows us to transform our "attitude" into "gratitude"... minus one of the T's for some reason.

For starters, I'm grateful for the new knowledge that comes my way every day. Up until a couple of weeks ago, for instance, I had no idea there was such a thing as a three-day-beard trimmer, providing men that carefully honed stubble look. Thanks to this new knowledge, I no longer have to wonder how they do that and focus my energy on wondering why on earth they do that. Now that's life-long learning!

I'm also grateful for the fact that one of my legs is slightly shorter than other. This might seem like a physical deficiency but I get to see life at a different angle than everyone else. Now that's life-long leaning!

I'm thankful for my son's realization that he is master of his destiny and not slave to heredity, his asymmetrical limbs notwithstanding. This became apparent the other day when his mother and I were discussing which museums we would like to visit over the weekend. He looked at us and said, "How am I even related to you people?" Exactly.

I'm grateful that my dishwashing liquid is tough on grease, soft on hands, delicious on toast.

I'm thankful for the minimal presence of the word "signage" in my life.

I thankful that you're still reading this, despite the warning signs up around the "Friends" reference.

I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life, not to mention the excellent back rub.

Thank you for the music, but the saucy lyrics I could do without.

Thank you for being a friend, although I would still like the ten bucks you owe me.

Thank God it's Friday! Almost!

Thank heaven for little girls, for little girls get behind the dresser where I've dropped my keys much more easily than I can.

Whatever you're thankful for, give it a little thought this weekend. It costs nothing and it might actually do you some good. Because remember: I thank, therefore I am.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through www.townships.ca. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca.

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