October 12, 2010 § 3 Comments
They say that if you repeat something for three consecutive years, it qualifies as a tradition.
My Aunt Verna reminded me this year that it was my seventh consecutive Thanksgiving with them since 2004. I think that more than qualifies my visits out near Swift Current, Saskatchewan as tradition.
For a while now I’ve been trying to find my place in an ever shifting family scene. Wherever I can find a constant, I cling to it. As it turns out, Thanksgiving with my dad’s family is a big one.
No major holiday is ever complete without a full spread of food. From salads, to the main course, and then onto desserts, a Peters’ table is always full and a Peters’ stomach often left bursting at the seams. Thanksgiving is no exception. A turkey big enough to feed a dozen or more people and still leave leftovers, followed up with ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, carrots, at least five different kinds of salads and finished with six different kinds of pies (chocolate, banana cream, pumpkin, coconut, apple and lemon meringue), yes sir, nobody at that table leaves hungry.
We always spend a large part of Saturday preparing all of the food for Sunday’s big dinner. Vegetables are chopped, salads are made, fresh buns make their way out of the oven.
Saturday evening, my cousins and I spend making turkey hats. We started out with just newspaper hats that we painted one year and called Thanksgiving Hats. We’re now on our fifth generation hat and each year we expand on the concept. One year we even had real feathers.
A large part of the weekend is also dedicated to kittens. Being that we’re out in the country, there are a few farm cats around and there are always at least a few kittens for us to track down and play with. It’s a wonder I haven’t come home with any yet.
When Monday morning rolls around and it’s time to think about heading home, I get in line with my cousins for a share in the leftovers first. We take turns dishing out what’s left of the food into containers to feed us in the coming days. I even bring my own tupperware.
Tradition gives us something to anchor ourselves to, and another piece of life that we can begin to identify with. For that, and for the people who are a part of my traditions, I am thankful. Because each piece becomes a building block in my life, both to build from and to build toward.
What traditions do you look forward to? And how do they help shape your life?
June 30, 2010 § 2 Comments
I suppose it was only natural that the Canadian Public Relations Society national conference was held just a couple of weeks before our country’s birthday.
Several moments during the three-day event held in Regina June 13-15 evoked strong sentiments of patriotism – and I don’t know of anyone prouder of our great nation than myself.
First, I met people literally from sea to sea during the conference so there was already a special feeling to the event.
Since it’s been a long-term dream of mine to travel to every part of our country, I was thrilled with this great opportunity to network with these colleagues from near and far, a few I had connected with in person before, but most I only knew by name. Numerous, like me, were attending for the first time.
It is always wonderful to gather with people from your own profession. When they also happen to be from every part of our great land, it is a terrific time to learn more about our country – first hand from people who live in these other places.
While we occupy the second largest country in the world and there are definitely some regional characteristics, Canadians really don’t vary a lot from coast to coast. It is more the personalities of each region and accents that stand out.
For example, the opening meal of the conference was dubbed as a Fowl Dinner, essentially the fare one should expect from the region around Regina. Some diners were not sure what the small white objects were near the end of the food line. Some wondered what the white condiment was. Well, they were perogies, of course, and you would want sour cream to accompany them.
Next June, I will be able to fill part of my Canadian travel void since the conference is scheduled for St. John, New Brunswick.
I have a brother-in-law who teaches at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, so it will be wonderful to make a side trip. Oddly enough, we will make it to the East Coast faster living in Alberta than by being in Ontario for 20 years. Since my wife and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary, it will be a splendid opportunity to make a holiday of it.
Another moment of nationalist feeling came when Lynda Havertock, president and CEO of Tourism Saskatchewan, gave an inspiring account of efforts to market the province in recent years.
It gave me pause for thought because a lot of people think of Saskatchewan mainly in terms of its major cities of Regina and Saskatoon, the prairies and, of course, the Roughriders.
Most people would not think the province could offer water enthusiasts a body of water the size of Lake Diefenbaker or other remarkable landscapes like the Cypress Hills.
Everyone has heard the jokes of how you will begin your day driving across Saskatchewan and can see far off in the distance where your day is going to end.
What this tells me is that if you take time to stop, every part of our country has something to offer.
An especially poignant moment came when our group stopped in at the RCMP headquarters and took in a presentation by new the latest crop of new officers. I had my photo taken with new recruits from my current location in Grande Prairie and my former community of Sault Ste. Marie.
It caused a few misty eyes to consider these and other new officers are about to put their lives on the line every day for residents near and far from their homes.
The highlight of the conference was Peter Mansbridge.
I have never found the CBC anchor to elicit much emotion from me, but I was extremely proud to be a Canadian when he illustrated the impact of what people from our country have had abroad.
He should know. Mansbridge has travelled the world over countless times in his decades with our national broadcaster.
Mansbridge recounted how he encountered a young girl in Sri Lanka who had wonderful thoughts of Canada thanks to medical aid administered by nurses from Vancouver. They had thought it to be imperative that they travel to the tiny country when natural disaster wreaked havoc.
He reminded us that the Dutch memory of Canadian troops liberating their country in World War II lives on in school children today. They visit grave sites of our fallen soldiers from that conflict.
Then there is the young woman he met from Afghanistan who is so taken with her new country of Canada that she feels compelled to return to her homeland to tell people there how good it is here.
As Canada Day approaches, it was great to have even more reasons to feel good about this nation.
Many Canadians are so busy navel gazing that they fail to recognize just how wonderful our own country is. Sometimes it takes a visitor from another country or someone who has been abroad to drive that message home for us.
I enjoyed my visit to Regina. I learned even more about a part of the country I had only previously seen driving back and forth across the country.
It was also great to be connect with a lot of new colleagues. I look forward on gaining additional perspectives on our great nation next year in St. John.
Happy Birthday, Canada, Our Home and Native Land!