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A Very Canadian-American Thanksgiving

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Nov 22, 2015

I may be a Canadian passport holder, but I love Thanksgiving just as much, if not more, than the average American.

Sure, we Canadians have Thanksgiving too, but I couldn’t really tell you the reason for Canadian Thanksgiving. After all, it’s only been an official holiday since 1957 and it’s optional in some provinces, which sort of takes the wind out of the patriotic, day-off-for-everyone-to-eat sails.

Plus, Thanksgiving was never in my family’s wheelhouse. It falls in mid-October, and we’re Jewish, so we’re usually busy with Rosh Hashanah (which, quite frankly, is just as serious food-wise) and Yom Kippur (where we don't eat for a day, then make up for it with RIDICULOUS amounts of food).

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My Montreal-based family has been contending with my American Turkey Day obsession for years. As a bright-eyed undergrad in Boston, I was booted from my dorm room despite a lack of a ritualistic family meal to attend. But you know what they say: when life gives you holidays you don’t observe, observe them anyway.

My first Thanksgiving, I made my family a spread comprising Bon Appetit recipes I had torn out on the bus ride north. The turkey, for the record, came out perfectly. (My secrets: covering it with cheesecloth, pouring over melted butter, stuffing the cavity roast-chicken style, and lots of loving basting.) The next year, feeling a bit more confident in my adopted culinary skills, I added 10 friends, my grandparents, and three versions of stuffing to the guest list.

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I’ve also had my fair share of wonderful families adopt me into their Thanksgivings as the token Canadian orphan. My Italian college girlfriend’s family owned a Big Green Egg smoker and knew exactly what to do with it: make two turkeys, one smoked and one roasted.

Another year, I trekked up to Washington State to see one of my best friends from college at her family's cabin in the Cascade mountains. We started off the day with a hearty breakfast and a snowy hike, came back to a house that smelled like heaven (read: Turkey and stuffing). The night ended with Scrabble, their family’s traditional pumpkin pie, and old Meryl Streep movies. I slept like a baby.

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This year, I’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving three times with three different groups of American and Canadian friends. I’m also cooking up a Thanksgiving-Hannukah hybrid menu for December. Because...why not?

Follow Talia Ralph on Twitter @TaliaBethRalph.

Photos by Chiot's Run, Davebloggs007 and Nick Kenrick

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