Friday, November 5, 2010

Thanksgiving Dreaming

Soo.. after a nice hot shower, here I sit thinking about Thanksgiving. It's going to be this way until the day actually comes and goes. I feel excited and inadequate all at the same time. Since I usually am torn between feelings though, it's nothing new.

I feel like my menu is too simple. I grew up poor. I grew up wanting to be like the white blue eyed families on television, with their long table for twenty and enough food to feed Iraq. I thought that was what Thanksgiving should look like, should feel like, rather than a day at church and dinner with church friends.

The thing is, there's no point in cooking for twenty when you have a family of two. My dad died early on, and it was me and my mom pretty much 'til high school. Like me, she was an only child. I don't have a plethora of aunts, uncles, and cousins to whip out of the woodwork when the holiday season rolls around. This always made the end of the year holidays feel rather empty to me. Thanksgiving and Christmas were no different than the rest of the year, when it was just mom and I and a cat or two.

It definitely doesn't help that I'm a first generation American, and mom is... not. At times, she and I could not be more different if I were a fish and she were a flower. Holidays, traditions, American commercialization of those things, they don't mean much to her. At best she shared a passing fascination with the same t.v. spots that intrigued and teased me.

I think the general feeling was that, Yes, Other People did those things, and Other People had those things, and that was normal for them, but we were not them. They weren't us.

Then there was always the fact that we are Hispanic. Not the good kind either. Okay, well half the good kind. Dad was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I blame this on my paternal grandmother, whom I have never met, but assume is insane. She was French.

Why anyone would leave France for Puerto Rico is beyond me.

Mom is Peruvian. I love this about her. I always have. She raised me with a deep and unending love for her culture. I was raised on Peruvian myths and fairy tales, and every once in a while, a good plate of Peruvian food. It's why I am so excited to take The Brat and The Punky to Hicksville tomorrow, even though I loathe Long Island. Tomorrow we'll get to sit down, eat Peruvian food, listen to Peruvian music, and watch a Peruvian show.

Sure, this is something we could recreate at home, I do know my way around a handful of our dishes, and music is not hard to come by, but there we will be surrounded by other Peruvians, folded into the community and ... well.. that will be nice.

Anywaaay... back to the point. Thanksgiving is not something celebrated in Peru. My mother got into the habit here, just because it's something everyone else did. I was off from school, church people did it, it was more a matter of circumstance than anything else. This was not exactly a great foundation for holiday love.

Miraculously, as the years went by and I got older and wiser right along with my mom, we learned our own sort of love for it. It coincided with the delusions of normalcy that we had at some point begun to cling to. Mother's plan was for me to go to some fancy university that she'd never be able to afford, remain a chaste and pure virgin until graduation, and then, without ever having dated anyone, marry a nice white boy with blonde hair, blue eyes, preferably German, who was in the military. This way, I would have a military wedding such as my mother had seen on television somewhere.

Finally.. with this bit of whiteness in our life, we would be worthy of and responsible for, the long dinner table filled surrounded by guests and filled with food.

[ I recently quipped to my mother, that Punky, my son's co-mother, was tall, white, blonde AND blue eyed. She was amused. ]

Obviously, none of that came to pass. But, near the end of my high school years, I told my mom the philosophy that I had come up with for myself. Family was what you made it. I had an Aunt Esther who wasn't an actual Aunt, and friends who felt like siblings, and so on. She agreed with this in her own way. My mother is a Nurturer. She takes care of people, big and small, for no reason whatsoever. We made Thanksgiving about the people we loved and were thankful for.

It's a very Hispanic thing to feed those you love, so Thanksgiving became a very awesome thing. Between my love of cooking, and my mother's love of putting more food on people's plates, we did okay. We did better than.

Cue personal familial tragedy that put a damper on the holidays for a year or four, and Ta-Da we are back to a good place.

Sort of.

Punky hates Thanksgiving.  Now, eventually she'll get on here and say that she doesn't, that I'm crazy, and that I always over exaggerate things. All of this is true. I am crazy like ze fox, and I lie like a sailor. Hello! I'm Hispanic. I can't tell a story without exaggerating something.

She still hates Thanksgiving though.

She reminded me of this a few days ago when we were at the party rental place. They were supposed to refund us our security deposit on the chairs we rented for Halloween. While we were waiting we noticed that they were stripping their aisles of Halloween things. Already they had put up some Fall/Harvest/Thanksgiving stuff. This included scene-setters.

Now, Punky and I love us some scene-setters. We were going to spend close to a hundred dollars at Darkside Displays for some Halloween ones. They just happened to run out of the dungeon background we wanted. I hadn't seen any Thanksgiving ones before, so I pointed them out, and commented on how nice they were and how it might be nice to have some.

Punky said " I don't celebrate Thanksgiving. I celebrate the food part. "

This threw me for a loop. Mostly, cause we were out handling errands and finally it was our turn at the register. She still noted my confusion though, and went on to comment on the wrong-ness of celebrating the pilgrims and the awful things they did to the native Americans. Ahhh.. this made sense now. And, it was something I vaguely remembered from previous conversations.

Punky and I talk about things like this all the time, and though I'm quite familiar with most of her stances, sometimes I forget. So, I forgot about Thanksgiving. I forgot about all of it. If anyone else had mentioned Native Americans and Thanksgiving in the same sentence I would have looked like an idiot. I don't ever remember the Pilgrims. Thanksgiving to me is about love, and food, and love of food, and family and stuffing and whipped cream.

I'm an idiot. Because normally, I would be hippie-ing it up with Punky and raging at the white man and his Mayflower and his diseases. But.. dude.. pumpkin pie.

Gah.. I lost my train of thought. Finish later.


  1. We don't celebrate the Pilgrims or the Mayflower or any of that on Thanksgiving.
    To us Thanksgiving is about Family and Friends. It's about getting together with the people you care about and enjoying each other's company. And of course stuffing yourself like ..... the Thanksgiving Turkey! :0)

  2. -cracks up- Hi again. Yeah.. like the post said, it's about love. Punky is of the stance that love and thanks should be a year round thing, not a once a year thing and I agree, but in our home it is year round but that's no excuse not to celebrate on the day everyone else does.

  3. Oh I totally agree! When we lived close to family, we always had a house full of kids and their friends. And every day was like Thanksgiving. I've really missed those times - cause we now live close to no family. But that will soon change...
    Anyhoo, any holiday in my book, is just all the more reason to break out the jello molds! :0)