My best friend had a GREAT idea a couple of years ago: getting her whole family together for one big celebration combining both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Now that we are abandoning Canada for the winter, I am stealing her idea.

Next weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada. It has always been my favourite holiday. Some of my fondest memories involve stretching our dining room table to accommodate 14 extended family members, plus whichever of our kids’ friends had no other plans for the day. Once My mom was no longer able to host us all, my Dad would always insist on paying for the huge 30 lb. turkey that roasted for 6 or more hours before we gorged ourselves on it. If I resisted, he would hide the money in our house for me to find later. One year, a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving, I pulled a tissue out of the bathroom dispenser and found a $50 bill. Dad would not be refused.

Great memories. Delicious food. Beautiful fall foliage. A long weekend to allow a leisurely celebration.

And no huge pressure around Santa and gifts.

I brought my big roasting pan (and my trusty rolling pin) to our rental here, so stuffed turkey and pumpkin pie are on the menu. The weekly Collingwood farmers market will be the source of our fresh local green beans, carrots, new potatoes, pumpkin, and local cranberries from the bog in Bala if we are lucky. There are also home-made pickles and relishes at the market. Oh, and fresh flowers for the table of course!

Ted and I are looking forward to hosting TWO Thanksgiving dinners this year. On Sunday, #1 and their family will join us for an “adult” dinner featuring turkey, but also a cheese course from Dags and Willow, Collingwood’s incredible gourmet cheese shop, and Ontario wines from the LCBO on the corner (have I mentioned what a great location we have here with everything in walking distance?). I love Pelee Island Wineries’ Monarch Gewirtztraminer with turkey.

Son #2 and his family, who live nearby, and our daughter-in-law’s parents, will come over on Thanksgiving Monday for a day in the park followed by our annual feast of turkey with all the trimmings and pie at the gorgeous 10 foot table in this condo’s sunny kitchen. We are incredibly lucky to be renting right across the street from the Shipyards Amphitheatre, a beautiful green space with trails, a natural amphitheater with stage, and a waterfront promenade where ducks, geese, swans and cormorants visit. It is the perfect place for our 3 high energy grandsons to burn off some steam and work up healthy appetites.

The rest of the week Ted and I will eat creamed turkey, turkey paprikash, turkey stir-fry and turkey sandwiches until it’s all gone.

No, we won’t have Christmas dinners with our kids. We’re happy to let them spend that day with their “other” parents with no guilt about who gets Christmas Eve vs Christmas Day, and no need for us to hazard winter driving conditions to be together.

We’ll tell you all about our Christmas Day in a couple of months.

Happy Thanksgiving!