Tuesday, November 22, 2011

From the Archives: My Big, Fat American Thanksgivings

I grew up in a BIG Mexican-American family. And we did everything BIG. Especially holidays. And ESPECIALLY Thanksgiving.

It was probably our biggest and most difficult-to-navigate holiday.

Christmas was easy: Christmas eve with Dad’s side of the family and Christmas Day with Mom’s side. But Thanksgiving was a NATIONAL holiday. A day to celebrate alongside our neighbors, regardless of color or creed, as AMERICANS. Splitting up Thanksgiving over two days would be un-American! 

So here’s how I spent every Thanksgiving of my childhood:
First, we’d head to my dad’s parent’s house. All the adults would squeeze into the living room and they’d drag picnic benches into the kitchen for us many, many kids. Dad’s family usually served the meal around noon. (I know!) The food? Was SO. GOOD. We’d gorge ourselves on the rich “American” fare we truly only ate once a year: Turkey, Yams, etc. Everything swimming in butter. Only “American” music would be played: big band, Mathis and Doris Day. After my Aunt Maria’s delicious homemade pumpkin pie, we’d end our festivities with, what else? A BIRTHDAY PARTY. Oh, yeah! Several family members had late-November birthdays and my grandparents would take advantage of having the whole family under one roof. So we’d bust into the 2-hours-old “leftovers” and then, naturally, we’d have cousin Becky’s butter-filled layer cake for dessert!
(My dad, left, and his brother Jess with their post-Thanksgiving birthday cakes)
Then we’d head over to Mom’s family home. You know, for Thanksgiving.

It was a short trip from East Cedar Street to West Cedar Street, where my mom’s parents lived. They served the meal at 4pm-which meant we had to leave the birthday party early. Mom’s family was just as big and it was just as tight a squeeze to seat everyone. Only problem? The food was better at the first house. It was! With Mom’s family, you could bet that the giblet bag had been baked inside the bird. Or that the mashed potatoes would be too thick to penetrate with a steel serving spoon. Or that the bread could be used to shatter the windshield of your worst enemy. (Before you get insulted, Aunt Sheila, may I remind you that they literally could not slice that bread with a saw.) And we were SO FULL. But we HAD to eat! So eat we did. And the fact that the food was so much better at the first house was always very quickly mitigated by the fact that the laughs were so much bigger at the second house.
By nightfall, my parents, my sister and I would be too full to sleep. We are blessed to eat and we are blessed to laugh, but take it from me: over-eating and over-laughing should only be mixed on very, very special occasions. It’s the American way.
What were your crazy Thanksgiving traditions? I can’t be the only one!

Wishing you love with extra cheese-
Nacho Mama

1 comment:

Ana Lydia said...

Thank you for sharing such beautiful memories with us Margo!