Since today is Thanksgiving here in Canada, I wanted to take this opportunity not only to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving but also to share the words of L.M. Montgomery’s alter ego Cynthia, who wrote the following in the 23 November 1901 instalment of Montgomery’s “Around the Table” column in the Halifax Daily Echo:
Thanksgiving comes next week, so if I want to do any moralizing about it now is my chance. Yesterday Polly said in a dismal voice that she really didn’t know what she had to be thankful for. But she has lots of things, and so we all have, if we would only count them up. The trouble is, we would rather count up our troubles and groan and growl about them. That is human nature!
Thanksgiving ought to be celebrated royally, not only in the letter, but in the spirit. At least, as some historic character has remarked, we can all be thankful “that things ain’t no wuss.”
Thanksgiving can, of course, be well and truly celebrated everywhere, but I think the Thanksgiving par excellence is one that is held in an old homestead. Thanksgiving in a new or rented house can’t have the same flavor as it has in a home where the very walls are permeated with the joys and sorrows of three or four generations. When the grown-up children come home to spend the day under the old roof, with perhaps a vacant chair to remind them of one who has gone to “a far country”—too far to even turn his footsteps back for that reunion—Thanksgiving is or ought to be all that its name implies.
Aunt Janet is making mince meat for Thanksgiving up at our house already. Mince meat needs to be mellowed by age, you know. What would Thanksgiving be without mince pie? This is not a conundrum, but a serious, sober question. Well, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving, that’s all. When folks leave mince pie out of the day it will be time for the Government to interfere.
In case you’re wondering why Cynthia is writing about Thanksgiving in late November given that Canada celebrates this holiday the second Monday in October, that’s because the holiday was celebrated in Canada at different points in October and November until 1957. For more information about the history of this holiday in Canada, see the entry on “Thanksgiving in Canada” by David Mills, Laura Neilson Bonikowsky, and Andrew McIntosh in The Canadian Encyclopedia.
Montgomery’s “Around the Table” column appears in its entirety in A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, the first volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library, which is available from University of Toronto Press or from your favourite bookseller.