Happy Thanksgiving, eh!
I am thinking of all my friends and family in the United States as we give thanks for our blessings and gifts. Its our second time this fall where we will take a moment to give thanks.
We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving the tenth of October. The Friday before the big day the kids had a Thanksgiving celebration at school and parents were invited. Apprentice had a speaking part, so of course I was armed with a camera when attending. Exciting! Their first assembly/holiday party in their new school!
The kids have been in countless little productions such as this through church and school over the years. Usually, this is how it goes. A chaotic entrance into a packed gymnasium with faculty, parents, grandparents, random family members, followed by the obligatory waving to all those the child knows in the audience. The production goes off successfully and there are cupcakes, juice and congratulations following.
Not this day.
I entered the school gym to two rows of chairs for those in attendance. Seeing there were only the two rows, I quickly picked a seat, as this place is sure to overflow any second. There was a hymn playing and some grades were already in the gym getting seated. Then, I heard an overhead page for each grade to come into the gym. Individually. Quietly. In a single row. As each class entered the gym, they joined in the Thanksgiving hymn being played on the piano by the music teacher. It was peaceful, almost therapeutic. I started to question whether I was in the right place. After all class were seated, the principal explained why we were gathered and his expectations for behavior. The gym, he explained, had been transformed into a church and we were all to act as we would on Sunday Mass. Really? And he was not even speaking with a microphone! The rows filled up, but no overflow. It seems only parents of those children that are directly participating came, and I didn’t perceive many extended family members in the gym either. The Thanksgiving service was really nice. It WAS a mass, where the kids did all the readings and the principal did a brief homily. I sat in amazement as the children all sat silently and listened to the words being said. The words were of prayer and poems explaining how we are to be thankful for family, food and shelter. It was noted that we should also be cognizant of, and helpful to, those less fortunate in our own neighborhood and across the world. And, I thought, this is all good.
The service ended and the kids headed back to class to complete their day. That’s right. There was still 1 ½ hours left in the school day and they had things to do. I gave my kids a quick wave and headed out.
When I picked the kids up from school a bit later, I asked for their impressions of the Thanksgiving service. Mid spoke first, dramatically, “Some party! There weren’t even cupcakes!” The other two asked why there were no refreshments, why I could not stay, why they had to go back to class, etc. I explained that this is a Catholic School and they do things a little different. And I stressed that I was proud of the Apprentice for doing a good job when reading his lines and that I was pleased to see the other two sit so attentively during the service. Even so, they were puzzled about the lack of cupcakes. Perhaps for American Thanksgiving.