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Orphan Thanksgiving

My first thanksgiving in Halifax was spent hovering around the oven. I was cooking anything and everything to keep my mind occupied; I only had to make it until 6.

At 6, I would be with the other “orphans” at CBC’s Pauline Dakin’s house, who kindly offered up her home to host a journalism school family potluck Thanksgiving. We jokingly named it our “orphan thanksgiving.”

My sweet potato shepherd’s pie contribution was overheating my small kitchen but I didn’t budge. Overheating was part of the Thanksgiving process.

Thanksgiving, like most family gatherings, is spent hovered around the kitchen island. This is not a glamourous location.

There’s Mom panic-polishing the dishes and Dad still in his work t-shirt basting the turkey, all while my sister and I make shifty eyes at each other when Mom tells us to do something. The kitchen nearly feels like a hot yoga room and yet none of our friends quit; they’re drawn to the energy.

My Haligonian space was twice as hot but lacking that same love. For a split second, I considered hopping on a last minute flight back to Windsor, ON.

I’m glad I didn’t.

6 o’clock rolled around and I walked over to Pauline Dakin’s beautiful home; her 2 lovely daughters and new puppy Teddy greeted me. Teddy reminded me of my yorkie-poo, Toto, who was creeping up on 11 but had the same pup-like energy. Teddy stole Thanksgiving.

The kitchen was stuffed like the turkey as we all sat cross-legged on the floor to cuddle the new addition to the family. I was smiling from ear-to-ear at the thought of another holiday spent surrounding the kitchen. I now know that hanging out in the kitchen is known as “The Nova Scotia Kitchen Party.” I guess it migrated over to Ontario too.

The beautiful thing about a student potluck is that I experienced food from all around. Lu, an international journalism student, made a sweet and sour pork and Lara, a local from the valley, made Luskinikn (Mi’kmaq) bread.

All of the “orphans” slowly let go of homesickness; it was impossible to feel anything but thankful for all of the passionate people in the room, especially Pauline Dakin.

She offered us her dainty hand-painted wine glasses and provided an abundance of turkey. Her daughters didn’t hesitate to welcome us in either; the two of them broke out the guitar and ukulele right after dessert.

Avery Dakin searched up chords, and played any song that our hearts desired. We had harmonies going in one room and the baseball game happening in the other. Not for a second did I feel out of place or like a guest; I felt like a member of the family.

It doesn’t take much to cheer up a university student, just to adopt and feed them.


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