Thanksgiving with the Mormons

I’ve been remiss in assimilating to my host culture. For reason[s] I can’t quite pinpoint, I find myself wholly unable to remember that Canadian Thanksgiving happens sometime around the beginning of October. I mean, if you were to ask me in the context of a trivia contest ‘when does Canada celebrate Thanksgiving’ I would answer October. But I can’t seem to apply that vague mental knowledge to my everyday existence.

As in, last Monday, we kept the boys home from school to go look at the less-than-brilliant larches. Had I remembered that little holiday called ‘Canadian Thanksgiving’ I would have remembered that my boys were already going to be out of school the following Friday AND Monday and why in the name of sanity would I keep them home another day?

I wouldn’t have.

I might have also deduced from the prominent displays of frozen turkeys and chocolate chips and canned pumpkin throughout the Superstore that Canadian Thanksgiving was just around the corner.

I didn’t. Not until I was in the middle of a conversation with a friend and she used the words ‘for Thanksgiving’ did it occur to me that Monday, October 8 was a national holiday. Seriously.

So, because we are [extended] family-less and didn’t have anything planned for the day, I did what anyone else in a similar position would have done: I signed up for a tour of the newly built Mormon Temple. Because they are offering tours of the facility to the general public for one month prior to its dedication, after which it can only be frequented by card-carrying Mormons.

[Recommend-card-carrying Mormons*.]

‘Let’s go on Thanksgiving because everyone else will be eating dinner with their families and we’ll be the only ones there.’ I do believe that was – more or less – what I said as I booked our 11am appointment online. Because I have this teensy problem, this habit of thinking my ideas are unique.

Hence my surprise when we arrived at the parking lot, and gazed upon a sea of parked cars, complete with four or six official parking attendants using those glowy sticks to direct traffic. We were a few minutes late for our appointment [courtesy of getting lost in the Rocky Ridge Suburbia Maze: Rocky Ridge Boulevard, Rocky Ridge Drive, Rocky Ridge Road, Rocky Ridge Bay – each confusing turn taking us farther away from the very large building with the golden angel perched on top] so we hustled towards the entrance.

Imagine my surprise, when I saw white tents. Port-a-potties. And a queue of people snaking all the way back towards downtown Calgary. Apparently, everyone else had thought ‘let’s go on Thanksgiving day because everyone else will be eating dinner with their families and we’ll be the only ones there.’

We would have to stand in a long line to see the edifice. And it was cold. And, did I mention we were in the throes of trying to potty train our last boy-wonder? I mean, our last kitty-wonder. Because this was also the day Percy decided he was a kitty. ‘And kitties don’t walk,’ he informed us. Which means, we had to carry our kitty for the duration of the experience.

For all one hundred and twenty minutes of it.

Our group of thirtyish began the tour with a ten-minute-long video about why Mormons build temples. I think. The kitty was getting restless and was crawling around on the floor, so my attention was compromised. At the exact moment that the video ended, our tour guides entered the room and escorted us to the Temple entrance where three gloved young adults were poised and ready to cover all of our shoes with white plastic covers so we wouldn’t damage the brand-new floors.

And then we spent the next hour and a half inching around the space, waiting for other groups to exit rooms so we could look at them. Our tour guide was very enthusiastic, and spoke reverently about the art on the walls and the meaning and purpose of each room, whilst I carried a thirty-five pound feline on my hip who I bribed with Smarties to buy his silence and bladder control. All whilst quietly singing ‘kitty on my foot and I wannnnnna touchit.‘ There was one bad moment when a Smartie fell on the brand new floor and the professor was about to step on it and I had visions of a chocolate smear on the white floor along with the disdain of all my fellow, reverent tour goers.

‘Get the Smartie,’ I hissed, motioning with my eyes towards the brown dot on the marbleish surface. Crisis averted.

‘So, what did you like best about the tour? What are you going to remember about today?’ I asked my blond wonders. ‘I liked the video the best’ the Gort offered.

‘The Hen told me he liked it better than the synagogue,’ the professor confided on the way back to the parked car, referencing the previous week’s synagogue visit as part of a work collaboration. ‘Because they served chocolate chip cookies at the end?’ I guessed.


*According to Dougthetourguide there’s a ‘recommend desk’ on each floor at the Temple where people stop to present their ‘recommend cards’ before continuing to the rest of the building.  This is, ostensibly, to prove they’re the real deal. Or Temple-worthy. Or….kitty on my foot and I wannnnnna touchit.

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