ExPat Files: American Thanksgiving In Canada Comes With a Side of Gratitude

To all my friends and family in the States, I wish you a “Happy Thanksgiving”.  And to all my friends in Canada, I wish you a “Happy Thursday”.


I know, truly, all the things about Thanksgiving in America.  And I know, truly, all the things about Thanksgiving in Canada.  [If you don’t believe me, I wrote a post about it a few years ago.]  And yet this time of year brings such strong feelings that “body memory” has to be real.  It actually starts on the weekend prior where you just know that Thanksgiving Week is coming…it is the shortest of school/work weeks…children are coming home from college (that’s American for “university”), relatives are gathering, food is being cooked, football is coming on, a four or five-day weekend is ahead, and it just goes on and on.  The whole week is filled with such anticipatory joy.

I fully acknowledge that if it has not been your experience, it may not make sense; but if it has, then it is the only thing that makes sense.  [Ask an American.]  The fomo really starts on Wednesday when you realize that you should be starting to relax and it is just another school night.  And now, today, when the only emails and social media posts you get are full of Thanksgiving, the games are starting up, and you are just…at school or work…that’s some next-level fomo.

Whatever your position on Thanksgiving (either of them) are, I would hope that we can all agree that the giving-of-the-thanks part is a net positive.  We could and should be grateful more than once a year and at a Jewish school, we have multiple opportunities each day to express our gratitude.  But since I am feeling all the Thanksgiving feels as I write my weekly blog post, I figured if I can’t watch the game, or see the family, or eat the food, the one thing I can do is express a little gratitude.

What I am grateful for this (American) Thanksgiving:

  • I am grateful for the soon-to-be gift of dual American and Canadian citizenship.  (Spoiler Alert!  Jaimee and I passed our citizenship tests and are waiting for the call to God Save the King!  We are looking forward to sharing the ceremony with our local community.)  Seven years a Canadian has been a blessing for our family and we remain proud Americans.  Doubly-blessed are we.
  • I am grateful for the men and women who defend the Land, State and People of Israel, our Holy Homeland.  We pray for the return of all the hostages and a peaceful resolution to this current conflict.  We are so hopeful that the world calms down enough for our younger daughter, Maytal, to have her semester-in-Israel experience this January, but regardless, the safety and security of Israel is never to be taken for granted and always to be grateful for.  Now more than ever.  Am Yisrael Chai.
  • I grateful for the technology that keeps me connected to friends and family.  COVID or no COVID, it is miracle that FaceTime, Zoom and Google Meet allow us to “see” parents, grandparents and friends across borders and thousands of miles.
  • I am eternally grateful to have a wife, Jaimee, whose Type A/perfectionist mothering and wife-ing creates so much space for me to dedicate my time and energy to my work and my passion.
  • I am thankful to have landed in a Jewish community that is extraordinarily capable and generous; a community that is committed to its future by its support for Jewish day school.
  • I am grateful to have landed in a Jewish day school that is full of committed, talented, caring, innovating and hardworking teachers.  A school is only as good as its teachers and we have a pretty great school!

I could go on, of course, but let me just say that I am also grateful to anyone and everyone who has ever read, shared, or commented on one of my 450+ blog posts over the years.  You often wonder/worry that you are speaking into the wind, but every now and again someone takes the time to let you know that they are, in fact, paying attention.  And that always feels great.

For my friends in the States…enjoy Thanksgiving!  For my friends in Canada…enjoy Thursday!

This is being planned with all due haste, and I do have a seat at the table, so please know that all the details of the program and our school’s participation are coming out just as soon as humanly possible.

Author: Jon Mitzmacher

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher is the Head of the Ottawa Jewish Community School. Jon is studying to be a rabbi at the Academy for Jewish Religion and is on the faculty of the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI) as a mentor. He was most recently the VP of Innovation for Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools.  He is the former Executive Director of the Schechter Day School Network.  He is also the former head of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, a K-8 Solomon Schechter, located in Jacksonville, FL, and part of the Jacksonville Jewish Center.  He was the founding head of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Las Vegas.  Jon has worked in all aspects of Jewish Education from camping to congregations and everything in between.

2 thoughts on “ExPat Files: American Thanksgiving In Canada Comes With a Side of Gratitude”

  1. Jon,
    Thanks for this – from one American to another.
    Happy Thanksgiving.
    Eric Sharfstein

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