By Jessica Borges
Naomi Williams shook her curls at her daughter. “Why is it so difficult for you to say ‘thank you’ Alia?”
Alia wondered why her mom made such a big deal of a little thing like ‘thank you’. As they headed out the door for the school bus, her brother Tyrell said, “Thank you for breakfast mom. See you after school.”
As Naomi waved goodbye, her husband David smiled, “She will learn Naomi. We should be thankful for our beautiful kids.”
Naomi reached over and straightened his tie. David had an interview with a music producer this morning. As a composer, David was happy to be in Canada. He loved the music scene here and was determined to be a success.
“I wish I could always have his positive attitude,” thought Naomi as she got ready to go to work at the art store nearby.
The Williams family had come to Canada from Jamaica. A talented artist in her home country, Naomi was currently not her usual vibrant self. She missed the year-round warmth of Jamaica, the familiar caress of the sea breeze, her huge family, the security of her art career…. She paused in her moping as she entered the art shop.
As she settled the acrylic paint tubes, Naomi felt a tug at her skirt and saw the most adorable pair of blue eyes look up at her.
“Excuse me, where can I find the card paper,” asked the little boy.
Naomi’s eyes softened when she realized that he was in a wheelchair. As she led him to the right section she asked, “So what are you going to make with all this paper?”
“Well, I am going to make a Thanksgiving tree with my family.”
“Oh! When is Thanksgiving? Do all families in Canada make Thanksgiving trees?” asked Naomi.
“Thanksgiving is a national holiday in Canada, celebrated on the second Monday of October. Many families roast a turkey with stuffing and celebrate with family. The Thanksgiving tree is our family tradition. Ryan loves it!” his mom told Naomi.
Ryan continued excitedly, “We first cut out a brown paper tree trunk. Then we trace out our hands on colourful card paper. Next we cut out the shapes, and write down all the things we are thankful for. Then up they go on the tree.”
“What will you write on your hand shapes?” asked Naomi.
“I’m thankful for my warm home, my snuggly bed, my kind teachers, my happy country, my friends Becky and Sam, my awesome family, my good health… Mom says I should always say thank you for what I have.”
Naomi felt tears gather in her eyes as the little boy waved goodbye.
After work, Naomi stopped by the library for books on Thanksgiving meals. The golden roasted turkeys looked delicious. The stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, corn bread, ham… and the desserts – pumpkin pie, cheesecakes, apple pie, pecan pie… what a celebratory meal!
The kind librarian told her about the symbols of Thanksgiving – the cornucopia or the ‘horn of plenty’ filled with fruits and vegetables symbolizing the bounty of an abundant harvest, yellow corn, bright orange pumpkins, squashes, vibrant leaves, and of course, the turkey.
That evening the Williams’ house was filled with the excited chatter of a Thanksgiving tradition being born. “I wish our family from Jamaica could be here to celebrate,” said Naomi sadly.
“Mom we do have people here to be thankful for,” said Alia and explained her plan. Soon, the family was busy making ‘turkey’ cards, and garlands of coloured leaves. They also cut out a brown tree trunk and lots of colourful hands.
On Thanksgiving Day their doorbell rang over and over, as friends from the apartment block streamed in, the Wang family, the Kumar family, the Dela Cruz family. “Happy Thanksgiving!” the greeting rang out.
First everyone wrote what they were thankful for, on the hand shapes. Little Priya Kumar was thankful for her new school. Carlos Dela Cruz was thankful for his new job. Wang Jun was thankful for the great Canadian outdoors that his family loved hiking through. David Williams was thankful for ‘ears’ that let us appreciate music. The tree was soon full of colourful hand shapes of thankfulness.
Then they feasted! Naomi had mastered the ham, sweet potato pie, and corn bread. The turkey got a little burnt; the stuffing however was excellent and balanced the taste well. Priya Kumar and Li Jing had brought along their versions of turkey. Priya had made ‘tandoori chicken’ and Li Jing a ‘Peking duck’. Cecilia Dela Cruz’s pecan and apple pies, a first for her, were out-of-this-world with vanilla ice cream heaped on top.
The food was delicious and filling. But most satisfying by far were the friendships and laughter.
As the last guest bid them goodbye, Alia hugged Naomi, “You were right mom. It is so wonderful to say, thank you.”
HAPPILY EVER AFTER IN CANADA – Newcomer stories from WelcomePack Canada.