Saturday, October 16, 2010

Being Grateful - Being 60 (week 24 - by Margaret Ullrich)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanskgiving.  The weather has given us an extra bit of time to enjoy the outdoors before we hunker down for another Manitoba winter.

Autumn can be a lovely time.  
It can also be a sentimental time...  
A time to look back, see how things went.

So, I'm feeling a little nostalgic.

On the American Thanksgiving Day it's almost guaranteed that, along with the Macy's parade and the Kennel Club dog show, there'll be a showing of the 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street.  It's a lovely movie which begins with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.  So that - along with the reminder that Christmas is just around the corner - makes it a perfect film for the day.

I wish there was something traditional for the Canadian Thanksgiving Day.  

With all the multiculturalism in Canada, might I nominate the 1990 movie Avalon as a proper film for the day?

If you haven't seen Avalon, it's a personal story about writer-director Barry Levinson's family.  Either his Dad's or his Grandfather's generation had immigrated to Baltimore.  The movie is about the changes the family went through over the years.

There are scenes in it that, if you are a child of immigrants, really hit home.

As an infant, I had immigrated with my parents to New York.  They came to join Pop's siblings who had arrived before us.  I can remember how important it was for the relatives to gather regularly.  There were struggles, but there was unity.  Everyone worked together.

At first.

Then, I don't know why, splintering happened.

Distance has nothing to do with it.  I get e mails about how this one isn't speaking to that one, even thought they live a few miles apart.

My husband is third-generation American.  He likes the movie, but can't relate to the comfort and pressures that are part of being first-generation.

He understands the splintered branches.
Lots of his relatives are just names on Christmas cards.
Always been that way.
That's just what happens.
No big deal.     
The American way.

Don't get me wrong.  
I'm grateful my family immigrated to America.  After the war, during which Malta had been terribly bombed, it seemed the only sensible thing to do.
I'm grateful my husband and I immigrated to Canada.  New York was bankrupt and losing businesses.  There weren't jobs for couples starting life.  It seemed the only sensible thing to do.

I just wish the splintering hadn't happen.
I wonder if it would've happened if we had stayed in Malta.
Is it something about America or about the people who choose to come to America?

Is it the American way, or is it just the way? 

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