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Thanksgiving Prairie Style

By Linda Peterson

Thanksgiving is a wonderful, busy time of the year in northern Saskatchewan, especially for farm families. The leaves have fallen from the trees, the fields are golden yellow with barley, wheat, canola and flax ready to be harvested. The geese are honking overhead as they fly south for the winter. The garden produce is safety tucked away in mason jars, the freezer, the root cellar. Pumpkin pies are cooling on the kitchen counters. The women are busy from early morning preparing meals for the men who will be heading out to the fields as soon as the dew dries on the crops, until late at night when they come in tired, dirty and ready for a snack before bed. In between cooking for the men, there are errands to be run, grain trucks to be driven and a swather or combine that needs another driver so that the crops can be gathered in before the snow comes. It is a race against time and Mother Nature to ensure all the bounty of the fields are safety in graineries before the winter snows descend. It is a hectic team effort, full of activity and stress. It is also among my best memories.

I don't remember how old I was when I discovered that the majority of Canadians eat their Thanksgiving dinner around a table with family gathered. My reality was that Thanksgiving dinner was eaten in whatever field my Dad was harvesting in that day. My Mom and I would prepare the turkey, the dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, peas, cranberry sauce, fresh baked buns and, of course, pumpkin pie with dream whip topping. It was carefully wrapped, loaded into coolers, along with a special tablecloth, placed in the back of our pickup truck. My brother and I would crawl in and our Mother would load us down. Off we would go to the field. Mom would drive across the field to get closer to the combine. Out we would hop, put down the tailgate of the truck, spread out the tablecloth and lay out our thanksgiving feast. Dad would drive close up, hop down, and come over to eat. If the harvest had been going well my Grandparents would join us. Prayers were said, giving thanks for the food, for the harvest, for no breakdowns and we would all eat under the large prairie sky. A perfect way to spend Thanksgiving.

Linda Bradley Peterson grew up in Saskatchewan but now lives in Ontario. She has a masters degree in social work and a second masters degree in education. Her current passion is family history and genealogy and helping others to discover their roots. She still misses Thanksgiving dinner out in the field.