Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Saturday, November 30, 2002

American Thanksgiving recently came and went and I didn't do anything to celebrate the occasion- for many reasons. I don't really have a large foreign circle of friends here, and of the foreigners I knew, none have ties with the ex-pat community here or planned on attending any organized event. Thanksgiving is a lovely holiday to share with friends and family, but I only recently began celebrating it in the United States, since I grew up in Canada. Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated earlier than in the United States, on the second Monday of October. Actually it might even be a little known fact that Canadians began celebrating Thanksgiving for a successful harvest before their long harsh winters, which come sooner (hence the earlier celebration of Thanksgiving) as opposed to Americans, who not only give thanks for food harvested but also for the Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims.

My parents are here in Kaohsiung, but since I grew up in Canada, they don't identify with celebrating American Thanksgiving.

Well, I'm not complaining because we actually did celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving complete with a turkey and all the fixings at a friend of the family's place in Calgary- that was literally the day before I returned to Kaohsiung from the weekend festivities of my sister's wedding in Emerald Lake, B.C.

When holidays like this come around, I realize that the strange thing is that my folks don't really celebrate holidays of any kind in Taiwan. It's like they are in some alternate universe- where they don't celebrate any noteworthy Canadian holidays like Canada Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year Eve or Day, nor any of the major holidays in Taiwan like the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, Tomb Sweeping Day, Lunar New Year. How strange in deed.

It's certainly not that they are year round grinches. When I was growing up in Canada we did in fact observe all of the above mentioned holidays, except for Tomb Sweeping Day because grave sites in Canada differ from traditional grave sites in Taiwan. On Tomb Sweeping Day in Taiwan there is an actual sweeping of the tomb and bones of deceased relatives that are kept there.

Perhaps the lack of of celebration is because we don't have much extended family in Taiwan to observe these customs with....

I also suppose that my parents are somewhat suspended between the two cultures. They've been away from Taiwan for a long time, having lived in Canada for over 20 years- so they are not accustomed to following the Taiwanese customs that occur based on the Lunar calendar nor the "Taiwanese brand" of religious beliefs that requires visits to temples to worship relatives or certain gods, to pray for good fortune, or the burning of paper money or objects for relatives in the afterlife. Nor does it seem appropriate to celebrate or observe Canadian customs in Taiwan.

I guess they don't feel the need to follow or adhere to any particular customs. This is most certainly not a reflection on their interest in Taiwanese culture or traditions, because they in fact collect Taiwanese artifacts, promote Taiwanese cultural traditions and are well versed in Taiwan's history. I wonder they'd say about my observation?


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