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In Canada, we get a leg-up on the giving of thanks. Our official weekend is in October. This year, it’s on Monday the 13th. In our household, it also coincides with a family member’s birthday, so for us, it is an especially thankful time.

At the beginning of the meal, in addition to putting everyone under gentle pressure to contribute a statement of personal thankfulness for something, we jointly express gratitude for the blessing of the bounty on our table. This year, we plan to share our celebration with newly-acquainted local vegan friends.

Our plant-based festive meal usually has a bean/grain loaf as the entrée, surrounded by an array of colourful veggies and homemade cranberry sauce. The sauce recipe: cook together until soft, 2 cups of cranberries, 1 cup of orange juice concentrate and 1 cup of raisins (no sugar!).

We dress up a bit. I set the table with our “good” dishes, and we toast each other with sparkling juice in wine glasses. For dessert, I serve herbal teas with a gluten-free, vegan birthday cake or pie, alight with candles. We sing the usual refrain & joke about how long it takes to blow out all the candles now that we’ve past that “certain age”.

So, it’s all quite “normal”. One of the distinguishing features in our household though, and one for which I feel particularly grateful, is freedom from having a dead body on the table. In honour of that, as part of the table decorations, I include a paper fold-out of a living, strutting turkey resplendent in his feather-finery.

A few years ago, we attended an outdoor seasonal event at which a man had brought his live turkey to be admired. I don’t know what his plans were for the bird, and I confess, I didn’t ask. Instead, I heard myself blurt out “I sure am glad we don’t those anymore!”

A little girl who had been lovingly stroking the turkey suddenly looked stricken. I was about her age when I found out what meat was, so I understood & respected the courage it took her to ask the man for clarification. As we walked away, I heard him gently & honestly answering her questions.

I’ve often wondered what that little girl did with her new-found knowledge. I hope her parents were receptive. So often in my life, my own daughter has been my Teacher, to our mutual benefit.

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  • One thanksgiving I remember my daughter realizing that the bird on the table had once been a live bird. It was definitely a profound moment for her. Then she understood one of the reasons why it was that we did not eat the turkey even though the rest of our family did! Thank you for sharing. Your thanksgiving sounds fantastic! :-)

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