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Posts Tagged ‘American’

Happy Thanksgivukkah

I haven’t posted to this spot in a while, and for that I do offer my apologies. No excuse really.

Those of you who are regular readers, and I hope there are still some of you out there, know I often talk about how I like to keep my American traditions alive by celebrating all the American holidays from my home in Toronto, Canada. One of my favorites has always been Thanksgiving. I always like to drag out all the festive decorations and start cooking a big turkey dinner with stuffing, sweet potatoes, and all the fixings.

In fact, in the past I have publicly advocating officially moving Canadian Thanksgiving from October to November to coincide with US Thanksgiving, for many practical reasons, including seasonal timing, all day football watching and Black Friday sales which Canadians are very much already partaking in.

This year brings up a dilemma. I also like to go full out on the Jewish holidays. The year 2013 brings up a rare occurrence. For the first time since Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday and not occurring for another 77,000 years, the first night of Hanukkah falls on the night before Thanksgiving. Some have coined this special event, Thanksgivukkah. December will be less than a week old and the eight day festival will have ended. Although Hanukkah is often associated with Christmas, by the time everyone has their tree set up and the wreaths and lights all hung, the menorahs and dreidels will all be put away for the year.

So, how do I handle it this year without giving either holiday the short end of the deal? I thought about just moving all Thanksgiving activities this year to the Canadian Thanksgiving which occurred on October 14, this year. Since all the Jewish Holidays were finished by the end of September I didn’t have the usual conflict, but something would still be missing.

Turkey celebrating Hanukkah

So I guess the best thing to do is just go along with what others are doing this year and embrace the combined holiday of Thanksgivukkah to the fullest. The two holidays do share similar themes and meanings. So bring it on. “Lights, Liberty and Latkes” is the motto this year.

Full disclosure: This year will be extra special for me. For the first time in many years I will be home in the USA to celebrate Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, due to a family Bar Mitzvah celebration. So it will be a Thanksgivinkumitzvah for me. One question if you eat for three separate celebrations but you combine them into one weekend do all the calories still count?

I’m curious how others are combining Hanukkah and Thanksgiving this year? Are you planning any special recipes or events? Let me know by leaving me a comment.

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Last year, I debated whether its better to celebrate Thanksgiving in November like my fellow Americans or in October as it is celebrated here in Canada. At that time, I considered it a draw. (See-When is the best time to Celebrate Thanksgiving)

Well, I think I’ve changed my mind. I now believe that Canadian Thanksgiving should be observed simultaneously with the American holiday. The reason: Shopping, Shopping, Shopping.

Lady Shopper with Sales SignsThe terms Black Friday and Cyber Monday have now entered Canadian speak. Hoards of Canadian shoppers now make the annual trek stateside to participate in the madness of post Thanksgiving sales. I think Buffalo, NY and other border cities may have more “eh” speaking customers than residents in those line-ups trying to score those big screen TVs and other doorcrashers.

Many people are already taking time off work to hit those south of the border sales. Countless business hours are lost the following Monday by people looking for the best Cyber Monday bargains. Retailers in Canada are even jumping on board offering extended store hours and Black Friday deals of their own – an attempt to keep those dollars on this side of the border.

With so many people already making it a holiday for themselves, why not just jump on the bandwagon and make the official Thanksgiving switch. Don’t want to make such a radical change. Fine, here’s another idea. You can keep Thanksgiving in October and find something else to commemorate late November. Everyone appreciates a holiday. In the USA, Columbus Day coincides with the Canadian Thanksgiving. I’m sure the creative lawmakers of Canada can figure out something to celebrate in November. Anything that incorporates large meals, excessive sports watching and a weekend of shopping will do.

This suggestion works both ways. For years I’ve been calling for the introduction of Boxing Day to Americans. In fact now that Barack Obama has job security for the next four years, its time to give him a call. Hello President Obama? What are your plans for the Day after Christmas?

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While back in the USA recently, my mother was asked, do you speak Canadian? To which my mom, known in these pages as Brooklyn Mama, proudly stated, that she was originally from the United States, so no, she only speaks American.

I never really thought about it that much, but yeah I think there is a certain, Canadian language. I’m not talking French, the other official language of Canada. I’m also not referring to a Canadian accent, for example the often heard “aboot” instead of “about”, and other such pronunciations. I’m talking distinct English words and phrases that identify a Canadian from an American.

As they say, lets start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, with “A” or in this case, “Eh”, a favorite expression of Canadians. I’m not sure if it’s a phrase I actually hear Canadians say or it’s a stereotype Americans think Canadians say. Or if it’s something Canadians do to tick off Americans. Canadians can have a weird sense of humor. Usually, found at the end of a sentence, this two letter word has the unique ability to turn any word or phrase into a question. Examples: It’s cold out today, eh? This chicken is pretty good, eh?

There are also words that are commonly used in Canada. Some of these include drinking pop, instead of soda or using the washroom, instead of the bathroom. There is also the “toque” (pronounce “took”, like in spook) which is a winter wool hat, often worn when playing hockey on a frozen pond., also a Canadian thing. Boxed macaroni and cheese is often referred to as Kraft Dinner, regardless of brand. Then of the course there are ‘loonies”, one dollar coins featuring a loon on the reverse, or if your really rich “toonies” featuring, well a polar bear, but called a toonie because its worth two loonies. How creative.

And who can forget the purpose of this whole blog and its name sake? The last letter of the English alphabet the Zee! Or, as they tend to say here, Zed. When it became a Zed, I have no idea. I don’t remember an official proclamation declaring a Zee a Zed. I just kind of noticed that’s how people were saying it. But, I was born in the land of Zees. When I was a child it was a Zee. So, to me it will always remain the beloved, Zee.

In fact, I usually try to keep my spelling, pronunciations, and terminology American, hence the spellings in this post. So, I guess Mom is right, we do speak American. But I guess if I was to start speaking Canadian or more likely a hybrid Canadian/American, it would go something like this:

Cold out, eh? It must be about 25 degrees out. Glad I’m wearing a warm hat. Do you know where the bathroom is? I just drank too much soda. I couldn’t stop. It was only a loonie!

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Round Vote Button

I’ve gone and done it again. I’ve just requested my ballot to vote in this year’s US Presidential Election. What’s that you said? (No, I’m not talking to imaginary presidents, I’m just being dramatic) “How can you vote, you live in Canada?” Well, as it happens to be, the United States is one of the few countries in the world that allows it’s citizens to vote by absentee ballot in Federal and State elections, even if they no longer live in the United States.

Are you an American student studying here in Canada?
You can vote!

Are you here temporarily for business or family reasons?
You can vote!

Are you living in Canada for many years, with no real plans to return stateside for the foreseeable future?
You can vote!

Have you never lived in the United States, but are American by birth?
Yes, even you can vote!

Here’s the scoop – your voting state is determined by the last state you (or your parents) resided in before coming to Canada (or any other foreign land for that matter). That’s why I’m a proud Pennsylvania voter.

 

Lady Voting in USA election

Registering to vote as an Absentee or Overseas voter is easy. Just go to www.FVAP.gov, the Federal Voting Assistance Program, fill out a simple form, print it out, mail it, and you will receive an official ballot for the election.

This blog is non-partisan, so I really don’t care who you vote for, just request a ballot and vote. It’s your civic duty. Besides, it’s fun and will make you feel closer to your roots. Imagine if your voting state is one considered to be a swing state, such as Florida or Ohio Imagine watching the results role in November 6th and they come to your state. What if it’s too close to call and they won’t be able to determine the outcome until they count all the absentee ballots? Think of the power you hold. What if you don’t care for either of the candidates this year? You can always do the “cancel-out” vote. I’ve done it before. You find another same state voter and you each vote for one of the candidates, thereby cancelling out each other’s vote. You’ve still voted but haven’t  given either candidate the edge.

Democrat and Republican Scale

 

So request your ballot and vote in this year’s election. Help determine if it’s going to be four more years of President Obama or if Mitt Romney get’s a chance. Why should only those Americans living in the USA have to take all the blame for the next four years?

 

 

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When I go back home to visit, I always make sure to load up on plenty of my favorite foods as regular readers of this page know, especially, pizza and bagels. When people visit me in Toronto they often ask what special food they should try? Does Canada have a food it is known for? I’m always puzzled for an answer.

Some people say the beer in Canada is pretty good, but I don’t drink so I can’t recommend that. I’ve heard that Canadian bacon is a delicacy but I try to keep kosher and even if I didn’t it wouldn’t look right promoting pork products to my Jewish friends and family. The poutine? That’s really more of a French Canadian tradition and as I mentioned in an earlier post,(see my posting on French Fries) the less said about that the better.

Then I thought about the butter tart. A butter tart is a well-known Canadian treat. I have never tasted a butter tart. Maybe I should try one. Maybe it can become the representative food I can suggest to my American brethren.

What is a butter tart?

A butter tart is a small pastry consisting of butter, sugar, and eggs in a small pastry shell. It is said to be similar to a pecan pie, minus the pecans, which I have also never tasted.

The Canadian Butter Tart

A Canadian Butter Tart

My experience with the butter tart

Like I said, I have no personal experience with the butter tart. By coincidence, my local supermarket had them on special this week – a box of ten of them. It was fate. This was the week I would try my first butter tart.

In these health conscious times, the butter tart does not sound too appealing – a tart of saturated fat- but I was determined to see what this piece of Canadiana tasted like. I took one out of the box and studied it for a while. The sweet smelling pastry felt heavy as I placed it in front of me. I slowly dug in. The first bite was only the crust, but that tasted good. I stared inside at the filling. It was a creamy jelly like substance with a crusty top, quite different. I took another bite and tasted sweetness, almost like an apple pie filling without the apples. I took another bite. Was that a raisin I tasted? I had read that some butter tarts had raisins. Before long, I had finished the entire tart.

The verdict  

So, what did I think of my first butter tart? It was a bit sweet, but it was tasty. I think it would be more of a once in a while treat, but I would recommend it. It’s no Drake’s Coffee Cake or Yankee Doodle (read my previous post on Drake’s Cakes), but if someone wanted to try a unique Canadian snack, I think I might suggest the butter tart. In fact, I may have another one myself. After all, I still have another nine in that box.

What Canadian food do you recommend to out-of-towners?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

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No Shoes Please

For the most part visiting a Canadian or American home is pretty much the same experience on both sides of the border. However, I have always been puzzled by one main difference. When visiting a Canadian home it is common to remove one’s shoes and leave them by the front door before entering. Some people even come with indoor shoes to change into.

When I go to visit my friends and family back home in the USA, the shoes stay on. I would be looked at strangely if I stopped, sat down and started to take off my shoes. Nor would you be asked to remove your shoes. Asking a guest to take off their shoes would be like asking someone to remove their pants.

I remember growing up in Canada and taking off my shoes when going over to friends’ houses. I figured it was more a kid thing. I can see asking kids to take off their shoes after playing outside. Children have a tendency to attract dirt. Yet, the act of removing one’s shoes doesn’t end at the age of majority. I have been to many adult gatherings where you are greeted by a line of shoes at the front door entrance. And it isn’t just confined to friends and family. Service people and salespeople have also been seen taking off shoes before they enter a private residence.

This custom is followed in many countries, especially Asian and European countries. There are even some in America that make this a rule. Some do it to preserve carpeting and hardwood floors. Some do it for health reasons. I believe I once heard Dr. Oz suggest it. But then he has an unusual attachment to fiber too.

Personally, I don’t really care. I’m polite and like to respect people; must be the Canadian rubbing off on me. When back home I usually keep my shoes on unless I’m staying overnight. Then I kick off the shoes and make myself comfortable. Back in Canada, if asked to remove my shoes, I take them off with a smile, no questions asked. I’m just happy to be invited to someone’s home and to be able to share some great times-shoes or no shoes. I just remember to wear a clean pair of socks, just in case.

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It’s been just about a year since I’ve been writing this blog. My first entry dealt with Super Bowl commercials; or more precisely, that most people in Canada don’t actually see those ads during the big game because of Canadian regulations. (To read that post, click here )But as many of you might remember, I’m an Over The Air TV viewer and as a result  get my signals direct from the good old USA untouched by any Canadian simulcasting. So, Super Bowl commercials are one of my annual traditions.

First off, I have to say I’m not into this releasing of the commercials online beforehand. Call me old-fashioned, but I look forward to the surprise element, watching the commercials unfold during breaks in the football game. It’s like waiting until Christmas morning to unwrap all your presents. Actually I’m Jewish so I don’t really know how the whole Christmas thing works, but you get my point.

Here’s a breakdown of this years batch of Super Bowl commercials:

The Celebrity Sighting

From Elton John to Clint Eastwood, celebrities were everywhere this year. Also among the rich and famous appearing this year: Matthew Broderick, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Donald Trump, Regis Philbin, a scantily clad David Beckham, and the ubiquitous Betty White.

More Talking Babies and Funny Monkeys

I believe it was W.C. Fields who once said never work with children and animals. Once again this year ads featured plenty of both. Besides the annual appearance by the E-trade talking baby we also had babies used as projectiles and a boy relieving himself in the family pool. On the animal side besides monkeys and the famous Coca-Cola bears we saw a dog that could fetch beer, a dog on a fitness regime, and a dog with possible murder implications.

A Trip Back in Time

Many of this year’s commercials had us feeling nostalgic. We saw Matthew Broderick re-creating his Ferris Bueller character and Jerry Seinfeld reuniting with the Soup Nazi. We also saw Hyundai employee humming the theme from Rocky, another Star Wars reference, and a cameo from the now bankrupt Twinkie.

Time once again to take a poll. Which was your favourite of this year’s Super Bowl commercials? I can’t list them all, but here were some of the most talked about.

I also would like to hear your opinion on releasing these ads online before the Super Bowl.

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