Hola, amigos! I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, this is not a holiday in Mexico, so technically this is a normal, ordinary Thursday for me. However, Thanksgiving holds a very special meaning for me and my family. Let me tell you why…
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When I was 7 years old, my family and I moved from Mexico to Austin, Texas. We were not running away from poverty, not at all. My father was just starting a graduate program at the University of Texas, so we all moved there while he got his Master’s Degree and his p.h.D.
Living in the USA was a very interesting experience for me and for all my family. Everything seemed so different, but we all adapted to our new life quickly.
My sister Diana and I started attending school, which was very different from our school in Mexico. For starters, we didn’t speak a word of English, so it was a very scary experience for us during the first few days. But after a two or three months, we were already getting the hang of it.
My younger sister Julie spent the first few years of her life in the USA. When she started speaking, she started learning English as well as Spanish. To this day, she still has trouble rolling her R’s.
By the time the school year was over, Diana and I had very functional language skills. In fact, I finished the school year with straight A’s and remained an honor roll student the rest of the time. How about that?
The whole family adapted well to life in America, and we all liked living in Austin. We started attending a local church, and the community was very warm and welcoming. Through our friends at church, we got to know what Thanksgiving was all about.
Thanksgiving eventually became one of our favorite holidays. My mom especially liked learning how to cook traditional Thanksgiving dishes, like yams, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. We loved the meaning behind it- giving thanks for all the blessings received during the year. It seemed fitting because as a family we all had a lot to be thankful for.
When I was 12 years old, my father finally finished his graduate program and his scholarship ended, so we moved back to Mexico. It wasn’t easy adapting to life there again, but we managed. And we brought many things back with us from America, including Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving in Mexico
Ever since we came back, we’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving, even though we can’t have a regular Thanksgiving here in Mexico.
First of all, it’s not a holiday here, so we usually have dinner on Saturday instead of Thursday. Also, Mom’s had to tweak several recipes to make them doable in Mexico. But she’s made them even better, in my opinion! For example, you can’t find canned pumpkin here, so she makes her own homemade pumpkin puree. This makes pumpkin pie even more delicious!
As the years have passed, we’ve carried on with our own very personal Thanksgiving celebration. Our family has gotten bigger, too. It’s not just my parents, my sisters and I anymore, but also my children, my husband, and my brother-in-law. Even if this isn’t a Mexican holiday, we like to get together and be thankful, because I must say that we are one very fortunate family.
Although we’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving in Mexico for nearly 30 years, our family tradition is now on the line.
In 2015, we weren’t able to have dinner together because Mom was at the hospital with Diana, who was getting chemotherapy treatment for leukemia. Sadly, my sister died the following March.
A year later, my parents were feeling very depressed and didn’t want to have Thanksgiving dinner at all. I completely understood and I respected how they felt.
This year, our family suffered yet another loss when my father passed away in January. Mom is still feeling depressed after yet another tragedy and obviously doesn’t feel like celebrating anything at all.
But I also think the torch should now be passed on to me. I should carry on this family tradition and teach my children the value of gratitude.
I don’t think my husband and I will be able to host a full-fledged Thanksgiving dinner. This year has been rough on us and our business, so our budget is limited. But we’ll have a special dinner on Sunday and give thanks for the blessings received during the year.
Although this year has been difficult, I think we still have a lot to be thankful for. We have work, we have food, we have a roof over our heads, and the children are all healthy and growing. Most importantly, we’re alive and that’s what we should truly be thankful for.