This is the second post in the Mami, Mom/Papi, Dad GLBTQ: Family Life Series.
“I always think it’s funny when Indians celebrate Thanksgiving. I mean, sure, the Indians and Pilgrims were best friends during the first Thanksgiving, but a few years later, the Pilgrims were shooting Indians.
So I’m never quite sure why we eat Turkey like everybody else. ”
― Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
This is our third Thanksgiving with Elliesofia and our
twelfth as a couple. The question of tradition is often discussed and argued about during the holidays more than any other time of the year. Do we join others for their traditions? Continue to follow our parent’s or grandparent’s way of celebrating? Do we choose the traditions we hold dear and string them together into something new? Or do we venture into the unknown and create something entirely different? As much as I want answers time begins to slip and plans demand a confirmation. We opt for trying to make something ours within someone elses’s way of celebrating and see how it goes. Which only leaves us with another question- who do we celebrate with?
The back and forth starts early on my side of the family as we are several states away and require plane rides, multiple schedule arrangements, and lots of saving. We try to figure out the algorithm for the airlines that give us surprisingly low airfares one second and then change them when we go off to tell the rest of the group to look on-line. For months we attempt to sneak up on the best flight deal. We are diligent and wat till Tuesday midnight, Wednesday morning, booking trips from Wed. to Wed. The destination is also pondered. Each side makes their case on why it would be easier to have Thanksgiving on their side of the states. In the end the prices go up, the time slips, everyone gets frustrated, and makes other plans. Part of my family flies off to Puerto Rico, the rest stay in Orlando, Fl. We opt for a Skype Thanksgiving each thinking the other is having more fun. We decided to go to Lisa’s family three hours away in Salisbury. But even when those decisions are behind us, and the holiday is actually upon us, there is still so much more to decide.
Much like the first Thanksgiving things aren’t always what they seem and can become blurry. Exactly who said or did what becomes a matter of memory. There is constant back and forth about who will bake what, where, and at what time it will arrive. Who will sit at the head, side, or corner of the table? Who will carve the turkey? Never mind the method. Canned or fresh cranberries? Organic, fresh, or traditional frozen turkeys? Boxed stuffing or stuffing withfresh veggies and fruit? Full sugar or half sugar?
And that’s just the basics. Then there are individual diets to
Lets not forget the music. Will it be Bing Crosby Holiday or Navidad Latina? And of course the dishes… oh the dishes. All that can be heard is the continuous echo of questions, each with a higher decibel, to include the non-hearing, selective hearing, and everyone else in between. Most answers end up as Hu?, WHAAAT?, DID YOU SAY SOMETHING?
And while we all discuss with agitated voices that could be classified as annoyance and maybe high frustration with a tinge anger at times, deep down we all know these are
frivolous discussions because the depth of our thanks has little to do with any of these minute details.
Like how we are thankful to have jobs that we love. Thankful popop’s health scare is taken care of and he is at the dinner table and not at the hospital. Thankful that, even though, the eighty year olds at the table have a deep affection for heavily processed canned food they are smiling, moving, and so incredibly happy to celebrate their
67th Thanksgiving, one of which they get to see great-grandchildren at their table. Thankful all our children are healthy, happy and excited to wreak havoc at granny’s house. Thankful for time spent earlier in the year with another great-grandmother from a far away land.
Kissing her goodbye forever and feeling her presence in my daughters smile and curly hair.
Thankful to see both our mothers move on to a time of their lives where they can focus on themselves and what they want to do.
Underneath the chaos of the celebration and the thankfulness that motivates us. There are also the worries and anxiousness that we carry like the jobs we hope to get. The money we hope fills our bank accounts so that we could breathe a little; not have to work two full-time jobs; and give a hand to other family members with their health care, bills, worries, and hopes. The hope that the next paycheck will allow us to buy not only the things we need like glasses, a mattress, a timing belt, an oil change, heat for the winter, a winter coat to replace the beaten up one; but also, some treats like chocolate, and an extra trip to see the families and maybe go see a movie and buy the popcorn.
And even these basics seem frivolous because they are immediate and not the worries that make our hearts heavy like family members that are barely getting by; students without a home; patients that have lost their ability to function; clients that don’t know where there next meal is coming from; and the people in the Philipines who show us all, with immeasurable strength and resilience, how little our worries really mean.
Because in the end the Thanksgiving tradition that I see around me, at my house, and everywhere around me is love. Not gay love, not straight love, just love. Love without coupons, sales, or door busters. Love that sometimes argues, cries, annoys, laughs, smiles, hugs, and at times must go home early. Love is the tradition that I think will stick. Regardless of which side of the world we are celebrating. Whether we are eating turkey, tamales, arroz con gandules, or oysters or whether our needs and wants lists collide into each other, we are thankful for the love that surrounds us and the love we have the opportunity to give. Happy Thanksgiving, Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias.
This is a writer’s process blog. Here I share snippets of interviews and stories as I create and venture the writing life. I welcome you to peek into the world of some curiously dedicated people and loving families. Leave behind your thoughts, constructive feedback, encouragement, and words of wisdom.
Live life with joy and love.
Catalina Sofia Dansberger Duque