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Something truly remarkable happened last week. Perhaps that’s a tad bit of an overstatement, but I was beginning to think it would never happen again. A relic of a lost age. A tradition of a bygone era. A story we tell future generations, and they say we’re just making stuff up. Put on the costumes, raise the curtain, and sing along with me. Farewell, so long, auf wiedersehen, good-bye. Good-bye!

I love that movie, and if that makes me a dweeb, dork, or a nerdy nerd who nerds a lot? So be it. It makes me happy. Never apologize for loving the things that make you happy. It doesn’t matter how “basic” it makes you. Drink the pumpkin spice latte, eat pineapple on pizza, and enjoy a good sing-along to a classic. If it makes you smile? Don’t worry about it. Be happy!

And for a few hours last Monday, I was very happy because this thing, the thing I thought we’d lost for good, came back with a whoop-whoop. It was Thanksgiving here in Canada. The time of year where we thank the farmers and mother nature for their hard work and bounty. We eat way too much, slip into the tryptophan haze, and say, “Oo, my stomach,” at least a dozen times.

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Traditionally, it’s celebrated with family and friends, but holidays have become rather unconventional. We’re separated by the pandoodle (I won’t apologize for calling it that), linked by technology, and filled with a sighing resolve to play our parts in this pantomime. 

Begrudgingly? My teeth have been gritted for at least fifteen months. How’s your jaw holding up? A little tense? Same. But following the health guidelines is important, and we’ve both got a basic amount of human decency. We’ve done our part to curb the spikes. Well done us, if we do say so ourselves.

Now, I’m not the type of person who gets all excited by holidays. I can take em or leave em. A day is a day like any other. Why over-commercialize everything? Can’t we just enjoy ourselves of our own accord? Do we really need to decorate everything? No, no, we do not, but tradition is important for…um… reasons. 

It makes normal people happy. That’s the explanation I was looking for, and you know what? We need more happiness in our lives so, bring it on! Holidays, traditions, and way too much food.

Laugh, love, and eat until you’re convinced something is about to rupture. Don’t forget to wear stretchy pants. Oh, and if you jump up and down, swivel your hips in a counterclockwise motion, and shimmy-shake? It helps the food settle and creates pockets in your stomach so you can eat more. That’s science! Or, I just made that up. It’s worth a try, and it can’t hurt, eh.

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Oh boy, I just let my inner Canuck out for a second. Eh? Next, I’ll say sorry and no worries. Maple Syrup, anyone? Make it stop!

One thing that made this Thanksgiving remarkable and it wasn’t the delicious food. It made this day one of the happiest of the last eighteen-nineteen months. Drumroll please! It was the first holiday my family got to spend together since this whole pandoodle started. Well, we were almost whole. One vital person couldn’t make it, and we still relied on technology to bridge the gap. 

Oo, but Christmas is coming. Soon they will be with us. Yippee!

We were together at last. People and puppies in the same space. The two-dimensional experience exploded and released the pixels into the real world. There wasn’t a lag, and we didn’t have to adjust a lot of screens to fit everyone in. We ate the same meal at the same table and clinked our glasses instead of toasting the air.

Before anyone gets a twist in their undergarments, we followed all the guidelines from our local health authorities. We’re all fully vaccinated— I recently got the third shot— and limited the number of people at the gathering. We’re all careful and hyper-vigilant. Two of us have compromised immune systems so, there’s no risk worth taking when it comes to an infectious disease.

I’ve had a kidney transplant and take anti-rejection medications. Those damn pills keep me alive, but they shatter my immune system. I have a hard time fighting off the common cold. My chances of fighting off something stronger? Well, I’m not lucky enough to be a good gambler. Thankfully, my family isn’t playing the odds either. 

Don’t worry I’m not trying to start an argument or a campaign. I don’t have the energy or desire to exchange fisticuffs at dawn. For me? For my family? We’ve followed the science and made the best choice for ourselves. Take that to mean what you like, and I wish you all the best.

It made me happy. A simple, uncomplicated, contented kind of happiness. I hope you find a moment like this in your week. We could all use more of them, eh?

As incredible as it was, is, to spend time with loved ones? I’d rather have them around for many more years than lose them forever because of one meal. That’s been our approach to the last year and a half. As much as we’ve missed each other— and it’s been awful— the sacrifice has been worth it.

Especially when it paid off last week. We sat together and shared a meal. We played with puppies and talked about everything as well as nothing at all. It was such a simple pleasure that I used to take for granted. How could I have ever taken this for granted?

Every minute we get to spend with the people we love is precious because it’s not guaranteed. Not to be a sour patch on a bowl full of sugar, but it is a part of life. A no-good, deplorable aspect that should be abolished, but until it is? That minute and every single one after that is a gift.

This isn’t some big revelation, and I’m not uncovering a great secret to happiness. This is an elementary concept that’s written on half the greeting cards on the shelf. We hear it all the time and nod along with a humming, “Mm-hm.” It’s so common it’s become somewhat trite. It’s one of the greatest cliches known to humankind.

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Don’t take these moments or the people you love for granted. Value every interaction, and store up every precious memory. This time together goes by so fast, and it’s gone in the blink of an eye. It can be given and denied at any point. It’s always been true, but we’ve been forced to reluctantly accept it as a part of our realities. It’s been a way of life for way too long now.

But last week, the distance was eliminated. I sat in the living room, my stomach resisting the rupture, watching the dogs play and listening to the conversation flow. It was a mix of good-humoured banter and philosophical musings. There was laughter and moments of quiet as we all sat together for the first time in nineteen months.

It was a typical family gathering without much fanfare. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. It would’ve been fun and good to hang out, but we could do it anytime. Now? It takes some planning and precautions. It’s not typical. It’s exceptional. 

I don’t know if much good will come out of our global situation, but there’s one thing that stands out for me. It took a pandoodle to realize how much I take for granted, but it’s those things that I value the most. Time with family and friends. Going outside and existing in the same space as other people. The freedom to explore the world around me or my corner of it.

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They aren’t grand adventures, and they might not be all that special to anyone else. To me? They are the pots of gold at the end of a rainbow. That moment, sitting on the sofa, was the most content I’ve been in ages. The noise, chaos, and the moments of calm. The people, their energy, and their voices. All of it was so simple, but damn, I missed this feeling.

On Thanksgiving, some people like to take the time to list all the things they’re thankful for. The food they’re about to eat. The roof over their head. The bed they’re going to pass out in when dinner is done. Usually, when you don’t know what to say, you go with the most obvious choice. You know what I’m about to say.

It’s not very original, but it’s always true, and even more than it was two years ago. I’m thankful for my family. These people I haven’t seen in one place for way too long. Separated by a virus, and the necessary caution. Reunited at last, and it feels so, so good.

It made me happy. A simple, uncomplicated, contented kind of happiness. I hope you find a moment like this in your week. We could all use more of them, eh?

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