When I grew up in England, Thanksgiving was something I read about in "Little Women". As I understood it, the celebration related to something that occurred as a result of leaving Britain behind. We did have Harvest Festival, or Harvest Home, a Sunday church service relating to the bringing in of the harvest that occurs around the autumn equinox, usually in late September. The church was decorated with wheat sheaves and other items of produce signifying a successful harvest and food items are given to those less fortunate. There were no special family gatherings.
When I came to Canada I was surprised to discover the extent of Thanksgiving in North America. To me it felt like having a second Christmas with turkey and all the trimmings and family in attendance, but no gifts. I was also surprised to discover that it came a month earlier than the one celebrated in our neighbours to the south.
It certainly didn't take us long to adapt to this additional celebration in our annual calendar and every year we look forward to sitting down with family and friends. And if we have taken on the Canadian traditions of cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie to go along with our turkey, we retain some of our British roots with chestnut stuffing and bread sauce added to the table's delights.
Our family has much to give thanks for, despite trials and tribulations throughout the year, and I wish all my Canadian friends and family who are unable to be with us today, Happy Thanksgiving and all best wishes to those of you who will celebrate your Thanksgiving next month.