Monday, October 11, 2010

No Turkey, No Cry

Ok, let's face it-this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend sucked. I am immediately aware that it was not a pleasant experience for many Canadians, specifically for those without enough financial resources to afford a decent meal, or for whom the thought of a cohesive family unit is just a dream, destroyed cruelly by death, divorce, poverty, incarceration, etc... That said, these attributes don't apply to me, and like many of us celebrating the harvest, I was eagerly anticipating three days of indulgent overeating, consumption of alcohol and added family time. It was not to be. My wife decided to visit her parents alone at the last minute, as my father in law is celebrating his 80th birthday, which may sadly be his last. I have seen him deteriorate tragically over the past few years, riddled with Parkinson's Disease, diabetes, and the long term effects of the hard living he experienced before coming to Canada. In perhaps a simplistic way, it brings home the comments uttered by Neil Young in "My My Hey Hey":

Ironically, I saw my own father's decline at the same time fourteen years ago, and in his own words, "the loss of dignity is appalling". Maybe it is better to "burn out than fade away" and I hope my eventual demise is sudden, quick, and without warning. Morbid shit, I must say. Ok, back to Thanksgiving. Left with little money until my next paycheque and a six year old to entertain, I was suddenly transformed into a divorced dad with weekend custody, tramping the city with Jake, and immediately aware of our collective cuteness and ability to play to the crowd of bemused commuters and bored cashiers with antics reminiscent of the type of the independent film that inspires the artistically inclined kid hater to procreate:

Cheap hustlers of people's emotions in reality, Jake and I have our share of disagreements more typical of the average father and son relationship than the fun loving noisy duo in the back of the bus would imply. Still, "playing dressup" is part of what keeps kids entertained, isn't it? In the end, Thanksgiving dinner was takeout and beer shared with my elderly mother, whose bum leg I have propped up of late with an ornate African cane; a conversation piece for another ham in the family. The thought of my 82 year old mother salivating over a Molson M is fun in the same way Betty White is worshiped - the old "hip grandma" icon complete with attempts at poetry in her retirement group and a diligent dedication to tai chi. As a further enticement, I convinced her that its unique formula that produces "microcarbination" is not a cheap marketing ploy by the purveyors of mediocre lager, but somewhat medicinal, likely producing less gas. Pseudo science at it's best! The evening was not a completely redemptive experience, but enough to allow me to be "thankful" for a few things: My son is healthy, my mother is continuing to flourish despite her constant pain, and I don't need Norman Rockwell to understand the meaning of family. Happy Thanksgiving.