Turkey Day Approaches
We here in Canada observe Thanksgiving almost a month earlier than our cousins in the United States. Just this past week, as my daughter prepared for a vacation to my country of origin – Jamaica – we talked about a family gathering she will be attending. Thinking about the personalities and behind the scene stories, I remarked that she might be in for the uncomfortable Thanksgiving conversation you often hear about.
October has been what you could call a turning point month in my life. Not only does the colour of the leaves change as we welcome Fall but so many other transformations happen at this time of the year. This was true in my experience many years ago. Earlier, another conversation that my daughter and I had around this time in 2006 came to mind.
With the approach of “turkey day,” here in Canada on October 10 and on November 24 in the United States, I thought I would share that conversation with you as food for thought. It is not the usual Thanksgiving fare but as the challenges facing our younger population around the world continue to intensify, it is a timely conversation to have. Some of the details were edited to protect the privacy of those involved in this story.
The phone rang and I picked it up on the second ring after seeing on the caller id that it was my baby girl.
“Hey, what’s up?” I asked.
“Why you took so long to answer the phone,” was her response.
Now feeling like the child in this conversation, I defensively explained, “I answered on the second ring.”
“No, you didn’t,” she told me. “It rang six times before you answered.”
“Well I know I answered on the second ring, but whatever,” the mother, who wanted to keep this connection going, responded. Thinking that something must have happened why she was counting the number of rings before I picked up, I asked, “So what’s up…is everything okay?”
Several months earlier, we went through a very challenging for me experience. No, let me correct that…the turmoil, utter despair and desperation that I put myself through when my daughter moved out. After the dust settled, my daughter and I came to an understanding that we would stay in touch three times a week. Well, I came to that understanding and told her that she should call me Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. She complied – for a month – then basically told me to bugger off!
Since then, when my telephone rang and I see that it was she calling a giddy sense of joy washed over me.
“My baby girl is calling!”
I tried not to call her unless there was something important to say and I kept it very brief. Like the day that I called to say that it was time to submit our applications for Canadian citizenship and, not to worry, we would pay the processing fees.
There was a television commercial for a cellular phone company where the caller speaks so quickly it sounds almost like a coded message as they watched their minutes. For a very different reason, my daughter’s need to feel independent, I found myself doing the same thing – talking quickly. That conversation went like this:
“I will pay the cost of your getting your citizenship, just fill out the forms that I gave you some months ago.”
Imagine saying that in less than a second! That was all the time I had before she said, “Okay, bye.”
A Different Conversation
That October day, however, her response to my speedy inquiry if all was well was “Yes.”
Feeling that there was a waiting on her part, I asked, “So why did you call?”
“You just wanted to hear my beautiful voice?”
Now treading into dangerous waters, I asked, “Missed me?”
Totally confused but knowing that something was waiting to be said I decided to be silent.
“How do you make jerk chicken?” was her question, breaking the silence.
I gave her the recipe and being the nosy one I asked if she is having a dinner party.
“No, there is an auction at work and a group of us are planning to give a Caribbean dinner package as an item,” she told me. “The proceeds will go to United Way and so I want to do jerk chicken.”
That was my first “Thanks be to God,” for the evening. My daughter was thinking about others, how to use her skills, talent and gifts to serve others. “Thank you God,” I said to myself again and launched into even greater details about how to make the chicken ‘nicer’.
The silence fell over us again.
“Alright then,” I said thinking the conversation was over, “See you guys on Sunday?”
The “guys” included her then boyfriend, the apple of her eyes and man of her dreams. They were coming to Thanksgiving dinner and to celebrate her birthday on October 15. This would be her first visit home since moving out and we were pulling out all the stops.
A Friend In Trouble
“Do you remember …?” she asked, naming one of her oldest friends in Canada.
I said a questioning, “Yes?”
“Well, she moved in with her boyfriend some months ago and is in serious trouble,” she matter-of-factly said.
Tears streamed down my face listening to the story. Working as I was with women in the criminal justice system, I knew a possible end to this story. I have been at the gate ‘welcoming’ women who took a similar road.
“I need to find her Mummy,” I heard my daughter saying. “She won’t return my telephone calls and I know she has her cell.”
“Okay?” I carefully replied, “Maybe she is not feeling too happy about where she is now, hence her not calling you back?”
Unsure whether my daughter was ready to deal with this situation and, quite frankly, not sure that I wanted her to, I asked, “And what do you think you can do?”
“I don’t know Mummy, but I just cannot leave her on the streets, I have to find her and talk to her, make sure she knows I am here.”
That was my second, “Thank you God.” Although my mind was rushing over all the horrible things that could happen by her getting involved, in my heart I knew she was right. In my heart I also knew that my baby girl has a caring soul and I thanked God again.
As I listened to the rest of the story and asked about her own situation, I was quietly thanking God for keeping her safe. There was a real crisis in our city, particularly among the young people. At the time, reports were that about 26.5% of children in grades 7 – 12 were involved in heavy episodic drinking, drinking at least five times per month. I
had read a report that about 10% of the homeless population in Edmonton are youths between the ages of 15 – 18. You had to wonder what the hell was going on!
Preparing to have a Thanksgiving meal and celebrate my daughter, I knew that we had to say a special prayer for her friend and for the hundreds of young people battling the challenges of living in a wealthy province (and world) but living without a purpose.
Fast forward to this Thanksgiving, again prayers and actions are needed. More of us need to wake up to what is really happening around us. Many people are merely existing, not living and they are right next door to us. Continuing to close our eyes and ignore them; ignore the real pain and suffering in our world, more young people, young women, like my daughter’s friend back then, will be greeted by the jail keepers or gravediggers.
Whether October or November, is that the world you want to continue celebrating this Thanksgiving? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below and join in the conversation.
Subscribe and always keep abreast with our discussions. It is free and your privacy is guaranteed.