My First Thanksgiving
For the first twenty-two years of my life
Thanksgiving held no meaning, no life,
no substance, no form, nothing familiar,
nothing special to hold my attention.
When I emigrated to Canada
my cousins changed all that
with an invitation to visit them
in Kincardine for Thanksgiving.
Turkey on the table, colored
table napkins, and a family gathered,
arms outstretched, to make me welcome.
We were all surprised at how alike we looked.
“Like Cousin George, in Vancouver,” they said.
“Like Cousin Elsie in Revelstoke.”
“Like my mother’s mother, back home
in Swansea,” I said.
They told me how the Second World War
had brought the family back together
on these special holidays:
Christmas in Wales for the Canadian boys
or Thanksgiving in Winnipeg
for the Welsh boys learning to fly.
That Thanksgiving, the old family names
turned to photographs: snaps of my mother’s wedding,
my grandmother holding me, age three, on her knee.
And finally, as a special Thanksgiving gift,
a long-distance call to Britain and Clare
on the telephone saying
“Yes,” she would come to Canada,
and “yes,” she would marry me.
And I remember crying all the way
from Kincardine to Toronto,
and that was my first Thanksgiving in Canada.
Comment: A Golden Oldie, indeed. This poem is from my collection Secret Gardens. The secret love poems I write to Clare. It was published on our Silver Wedding Anniversary, 24 December 1991. It is a pleasure to re-publish it here for Thanksgiving, 2021. Now what am I going to do for 24 December 2021?
Click on the link below for Roger’s reading.