I show up at the door this past Thursday night, ticket voucher in hand, a token Canadian ready to join the ranks of Americans everywhere in experiencing my first Thanksgiving dinner ever.
Just to clarify, I am well aware of the fact that Canada also has some pitiful excuse of a Thanksgiving holiday but I have no clue when it is and, quite frankly, I don’t even know if anyone in Canada ever celebrates it except maybe at the GAP where it gives them another reason to have a sale.
I start to talk to the woman collecting money and tickets at the door. She looks at me, does the ‘just a minute’ Israeli hand motion pointed in my direction and says, “Please just wait one second while I finish up with this other person.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” is the only response I can muster up, right in line with my blatantly obvious Canadian heritage and accent.
After straightening things out with the just a minute woman, I walk into the courtyard where people have already started to gather and the food buffet is all laid out. I notice by the head tilt, 45 degree downward glances in my direction that I am showing way too much cleavage for this type of Jerusalem crowd and my first inclination is to pull my sweater over my low cut, demi bra dress and whisper to no one in particular, “I’m sorry.”
I realize that considering my busty mama situation I should probably move closer to the far corner of the mingling area which also ends up being the alcoholic beverage table. Looks like things are going well; God loves me and obviously wants me to have a glass of wine. So I reach for a bottle and notice that none of the bottles have been opened. Luckily I notice a bottle opener on the table right next to the wine. A young guy in a suit reaches for it first and says in a gentlemanly way that only an American who is staring at my breasts could possibly muster, “Allow me”.
“I’m sorry,” I respond and wait patiently for him to open the bottle.
Well, it ends up that God doesn’t like me all that much after all considering that the bottle opener turns out to be broken and ends up just breaking the cork into little pieces leaving a few of them floating visibly inside the wine bottle right near the surface.
I am just about ready to give up and call it a night when he tries his luck on a different bottle, somehow re-strategizing his game plan and getting the damn cork out. I let him pour me some wine in a plastic cup while complementing him on his gold ring, the least I can do for all his efforts, telling him that I am always jealous of a man who has better jewelry than me. I start to listen to the story about the ring’s history when finally my sister, and partner for this evening, arrives.
What a relief to see someone who doesn’t stare at my boobs and who laughs almost identically, simultaneously and in complete synchronization with me. “Sorry I’m late,” she says to me in true Canadian fashion.
“Check out the wine bottle I tried to break into,” I show her. We both start laughing in perfect synchronization and once again I feel that all is well with the world.
“Let’s pretend to be Americans,” she says, a statement I completely agree with though not really sure how to make it happen. I attempt to navigate the buffet while holding my purse under one arm, my plastic cup of wine in my left hand and a flimsy plate in my right. We are both checking out the food spread trying to figure out what it is that supposedly differentiates so drastically between us and our neighbors to the south.
We start on the far end of the buffet, systematically working our way around the table, apologizing to everyone who is taking food even if they aren’t close enough to us that it would even make a difference whether we were apologizing or saying something like, “You have monkeys flying out of your butt.”
But we are Canadian so we keep smiling politely and apologizing.
We both reach for the stuffing, quinoa salad, apple tart, turkey, and cranberry sauce finally ending up at the sweet potato pie, each one of us looking at it with great interest and curiosity.
“Sweet potato pie,” my sister says matter-of-factly with just that wee bit of curiosity and skepticism in her voice that nobody except a close sibling would notice even if they were listening for it. She quickly apologizes noticing that I picked up on the skepticism and not wanting to ruin the already precarious mood.
With one hand she tries to dish the sweet potato pie out of the pie plate with a teeny tiny spoon that only Americans could possibly deem appropriate for serving such a sticky and difficult-to-cut dish.
Down go the two little pillars supporting the enormous glass plate where the sweet potato pie rested on…
Down goes the glass plate and…
Down go the candles placed there for ambiance which are now no more than a sticky pile of wax on the table cloth….
My sister and I both look at each other with a get-me-out-of-here kind of look and simultaneously blurt out:
But sorry doesn’t really matter at this point as we watch the catering staff quickly move in to do some damage control. We take our plates and look for somewhere to sit down but it seems that while we were causing destruction at the buffet, the only seats not yet occupied are in the far corner, little couches so low to the ground that if it wasn’t for the fact that I was wearing a loose flowing dress I would never have been able to pry myself out of my seat at the end.
Something is rotten in the state of Thanksgivukkah.
We realize that it’s the turkey and the quinoa salad; both have either been left out for too long or are just too old. This leads us to discuss what we are going to do if we end up getting food poisoning and throwing up all night which then leads us to the follow-up topic of when the last time was that each of us barfed. I recall my last barforama: it was last year, hotdog dinner. My sister can’t remember her last time probably because it was long enough ago that it doesn’t really matter.
We sit there eating whatever food is edible, no one really bothering to talk to us since we are big nobodies in this crowd of familiar somebodies, a group of singles and young religious “professionals” (or at least that’s what the invitation said). Thanksgivukkah may only come once every 10,000 years but the attending crowd seemed to see each other regularly, regardless of the reason, as they all looked one another over in that ‘Oh, it’s you again?’ familiar kind of way.
My sister and I look at each other in that knowing way that only a sister can, which is probably one of the reasons we prefer to go places together; we both stand up and realize that our work is done there.
As we walk out the door, obviously so much ahead of the rest of the crowd, we turn to the woman at the exit and say to her in our most nonchalant Canadian voices, “We’re sorry, but Canadians just aren’t meant to celebrate Thanksgiving.”