Thanksgiving is a day away. I have never been a fan. I feel it is because I have never been able to get it right. As a child, I could never convey the proper reason to my mom as to why she needed to buy and cook a turkey when no one in our household liked turkey. Furthermore, my father would become infuriated year after year, because unlike Christmas Eve or the 4th of July, Thanksgiving has no set date. He did not like the fact that Thanksgiving could fall anywhere between the 22nd and the 28th.
My parents had their own rules about Thanksgiving. My sister and I were not allowed to bring friends over. The only people who could come over were family. My mother was never confident about her turkey, so she did not want strangers criticizing her culinary skills. My aunt Luz would visit us every year. She would carry herself under the power of her walking stick, as she sighed deeply and slump into the first available chair. She would complain about her knees and everything that had gone wrong up to that moment. She would take my hand and move it over her ailments and then ask me if I felt a lump.
The next rule was that we had to eat early. My mother and sister would start cooking at the crack of dawn. My mom would be on her second brick of butter before the sun came up. Testosterone was not allowed in the kitchen. The football game would be on, but no one paid attention to it. My father would start complaining about the line at the market. If only there had been some way of knowing Thanksgiving was just around the corner, he would have avoided buying his six pack of holiday cheer at the supermarket.
We were not expected to dress up, nor did we go around the table and say what we were grateful for. I sincerely think that was a power move on the part of my parents because I do not think they wanted to hear my aunt talk about other people’s tumors and how she was not long for this world. There was no adult and children’s table. My mother would call your name for the main table. If you did not come in time, you would have to sit there with your food on your lap. We had plenty of chairs, but space on the table was limited.
The men enjoyed the double standard and were given the opportunity to eat first. We gorged ourselves on turkey and stuffing. The only dessert we had was an apple pie. My parents did not believe in any other kind of pie. I think my mother fed us to the point of a nuclear coma, so that she could put us to sleep and she could take control of the television. She did not have the patience to watch grown men chase after a ball so she would switch the channel. Don Francisco’s voice would lull me to sleep as he chased after el Chacal de la Corneta.
There was enough time to go to other people’s Thanksgivings. I rarely went because I was a fish out of water. The times when I did go, I sat there like one of the lumps my aunt talked about. My friends’ families would say grace, and I would mumble gargled Rolling Stones lyrics under my breath. My family bonded through a complete disconnection so I was not used to going around the table and discussing what I was grateful for. I was grateful for the moment, and for being in a place that believed in pumpkin pie.
[Photo by thegardenbuzz]