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Happy Thanksgiving!

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“I’m so glad I live in a word where there are Octobers” Anne of Green Gables

Happy Thanksgiving!  It’s Canadian Thanksgiving today – a celebration of family, friends, and the fall harvest. I love this time of year – the fresh smell of fall, apple picking, roadside stands of pumpkins, mums and cornstalks and of course the fall colours changing as you drive down country roads.  Wonderful!

Family Traditions

applepicking

When I was growing up, every Thanksgiving involved a trip to the apple orchard with a caravan of cars – usually 15+ – of my parents friends and their kids.  We would then go for a canoe paddle and play some games on the beach, moving on to an amazing nursery to eat fresh cinnamon donuts, play with the farm animals and maybe buy a plant or two. Thanksgiving Monday usually finished up with a meal together at Chinese restaurant where my twin sister, Sheila, would invariably order broccoli cheese soup (that was from the ‘Canadian’ part of the menu).  A traditional Thanksgiving meal (turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, etc..) would have happened earlier that weekend with my maternal grandparents so we got lots of food, family and friends over the whole weekend.

My sisters and I continued that tradition through my early twenties after our parents moved back out East.  And then things got in the way; working in different countries, in-laws we wanted to celebrate with, kids at different stages, etc…What I’ve always loved about my family’s way of celebrating holidays is that’s it’s focused on family – the details are just that, details.

Thanksgiving 2013

So this Thanksgiving, my husband packed up the car and the dog and went to visit his family.  He’ll be back today so we can celebrate together with a hike and some great dinner for two. Sheila and I took advantage of the weekend to finally celebrate our birthday from last year (December!) by going to Stratford for the Stratford Festival. We saw Fiddler on the Roof – it was great.

Stratford Festival's Fiddler on the Roof
Stratford Festival’s Fiddler on the Roof

Stratford itself is such a sweet town.  The downtown is lovely and full of lots to explore (let’s just say Christmas shopping started this weekend!).

LIttle York Street in Stratford, ON
Little York Street in Stratford, ON

It’s also a very walkable town and we enjoyed the most gorgeous weather on Saturday to do just that – walk.  York Street (pictured above) is really a little side street downtown. The main street, Ontario Street, as well as Albert, Erie and Wellington Streets have more shops and restaurants to enjoy. Eating is good in Stratford – afterall, it’s home to the Stratford Chefs School.  We stayed at a B & B near downtown, walked to the shops and then walked to the Festival Theatre along the river.

RIver in Stratford at Shakespeare Garden
Avon River in Stratford at Shakespeare Garden

The Festival Theatre is located along the Avon River and the swans and ducks are used to being fed by festival goers throughout the season (which runs April to October).  I’m sure locals feed them as well –  these birds get pretty close looking for a treat.

Swan on the Avon RIver  looking for a treat, Stratford, ON
Swan on the Avon RIver looking for a treat, Stratford, ON
Swan on the Avon River, Stratford, ON
Swan on the Avon River, Stratford, ON

We do have one tradition that we hold onto pretty closely – picking names for Christmas gifts.  Our family does a one to one where each adult buys for another adult.  The names are written in a book and we, the four daughters and my mom, take turns pulling names on Thanksgiving weekend.  It was Sheila’s turn this year!  

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family names to pull for christmas gifts!

It was also the first year we included my three nieces and my nephew.  They are now 18-20 years old and wanted to be included in the ‘adult’ gift giving. Do you think they realize that means fewer gifts for each of them? 🙂

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All done with name pulling. Now off to the theatre!

Sunday we headed back to my place – stopping in some small towns for pumpkins, shopping, getting bulbs for fall plantings – and some chances to take pictures of things we thought our mom would like to see…..Sheila’s coffee needs being met, small-towns and farm shops…

Balzac's Coffee in Stratford, ON
Sheila at Balzac’s Coffee in Stratford, ON
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Downtown Tavistock, ON
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The Best Little Pork Shoppe in Shakespeare, ON has some ahhmazing bacon.
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Downtown New Hamburg, ON
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Downtown New Hamburg, ON

Sheila and I did get traditional yesterday before she headed back to Toronto – we ordered and enjoyed some Chinese food!

Wishing you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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