If you know me you know that my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving (American Thanksgiving of course). It’s an all-American holiday with a very muddled history but still carries the sentiment of sharing and reflecting on what one is thankful for in life. It’s also a celebration of harvest, of bounty, or in other words FOOD.
In my neck of the woods (Texas) my mom slaves away for a few days cooking and preparing for our traditional Thanksgiving feast of turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry chutney, chestnut dressing, green bean casserole and corn soufflé. I’m responsible for the dessert which always includes a pumpkin something or other like tartlets or pie which from personal experience is a delicacy to weimaraners. My mom partitions herself in the kitchen the day before the holiday and allows no one to pass unless it’s to get a drink. Somehow being her only daughter and proving that I do have ability in the kitchen she grants me immunity and allows me to act as her sous chef. We sip on wine and prep the food while listening to classical music. The following day my mom slaves away in the kitchen over a hot oven and a hot stove all while maintaining a sparkling clean work area. While she makes best friends with the turkey my dad and I sit outside drinking crown and coke chatting about life. The few family members that celebrate with us, basically my grandma, my brother and my sister-in-law, trickle in around noon. We all converse and enjoy the time together until it’s time to eat. At this point my mom has spent 85% of her time that day in the kitchen preparing a beautiful meal. She beckons us to the table filled with casserole dishes and platters of Thanksgiving delicacies. We serve ourselves family style piling the food on our plates with eyes bigger than our stomachs. Thirty minutes later we’re stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey and make our way to a nearby chair or sofa to relax and enjoy the rest of the evening. After dessert we all sit down and watch a Christmas movie, most traditionally National Lampoons “Christmas Vacation” while we secretly wish we hadn’t eaten so much food. The following day my parents don’t wake up early to go out and brave the Black Friday crowds, no way. Rather, my Dad wakes up early to bring down boxes of Christmas decorations from the attic. My mom wakes up early and prepares the house to be decked. She will spend the entire day decorating the house with Christmas music classics playing on the radio and a glass of wine nearby. By the day’s end my parents’ house would be magazine perfect and beautiful marking the starting point of the Christmas season.
These are my family’s traditions and I never really appreciated them until I was without. Of course Ecuador doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving and we Peace Corps volunteers do our best to celebrate the day together. My plans for today are to go to the city Guayaquil to celebrate with new and old friends I’ve made here in Ecuador. We’ll all chip in to buy a turkey (it’s expensive here!) and share the dishes we’ll bring. I’m making a dish out of camote which is an Andean purple sweet potato. It will be fun and I’m glad I have people to celebrate with but of course it isn’t the same and I miss celebrating Thanksgiving with my family.
There is one major thing I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving and it’s that I’m thankful I’ll be home for Christmas!