A holiday that began as the celebration of two cultures-Indians and Pilgrims-coming together to share a Thanksgiving en familiatable, has also joined Latinos and Americans into one family.
Growing up in Puerto Rico, we get the opportunity to celebrate many of the traditional US holidays, but I have to say that one of my favorites is Día de Acción de Gracias, or Thanksgiving, as it is known in the mainland. Just imagine having turkey, pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes, along with Puerto Rican yellow rice, roasted pork and coconut-based desserts in 80+ degree weather. Every year our friends and relatives would join together to sit at the same table to laugh, talk and say a prayer of thanks-in Spanish, of course. It was the type of gathering beautiful memories are made of.
Once we moved to the states, and as my brother and sisters began to marry, the families they married into became integrated with our holidays. Soon, our table started showing signs of new traditions. There was a broccoli casserole neatly presented next to Abuela's arroz con gandules, apple pie side by side Mami's flan and Spanish conversation going on right next to jokes told in English. But this harmonious conglomeration had some awkward beginnings.
Like the time when one of the mothers-in-law almost ended up having just dessert for Thanksgiving, because she couldn't have onions in her food (and all of the food had onions!). Or the time when one of the new brothers was served an alcapurria and told everyone he wasn't eating anything that looked like "fried poop". Our favorite Thanksgiving story of all time, though, was when my Abuela took the pavo (or turkey) she so lovingly and deliciously had prepared and placed it into a 175 degree-oven "to keep warm" overnight. It was the most amazingly tasting bird we ever had, but when askedThe second gen having their bi-cultural Thanksgiving for the secret of her succulent turkey, she fessed up to the whole "overnight in the oven turkey" deal. A few hours later, we all started dropping like flies. Can you spell salmonella?
Today, there's a new generation of young Latinos in our family to whom a mixed-culture table is nothing but the norm. They wouldn't think of Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie, but they also expect their gandules rice and a flavorful turkey prepared with Abuela's adobo mix.
So as we gather again for this Day of Gracias, we are truly thankful for the seamlessly blended family we have become, for the legacy we have received from the older generations and for how proud the new gen is of being Americans of Latino "flavor".
And like my abuela used to say, ¡Eso es así!