While my friends and family were enjoying the sleep that comes from a food-induced coma or fighting off the crowds of bargain hunters to take advantage of the best Black Friday deals, I was in a time of crisis.
There was a showdown of some sort going on in my kitchen and I was somewhat apprehensive about drawing my weapon. With my mom thousands of miles away and a vegetarian roommate by my side, I found myself feeling a little alone in this Thanksgiving battle. It was me versus the turkey.
I have very fond memories of Thanksgiving, especially from my years spent in New York where most of my family lives. Back in those days my alarm clock on that fourth Thursday of November was the sound of my mom and her sisters loudly laughing, talking and fussing over the food they were making. Their voices may have woken me up, but what got me out of bed was the smell of Thanksgiving favorites like turkey and mashed potatoes being cooked along side traditional foods from the country of Haiti where both of my parents are from.
In California we started a new tradition. Instead of having my mom stuck in the kitchen all day, we ordered a full-fledged, already-cooked Thanksgiving dinner and spent the morning hiking in the mountains that overlook Los Angeles. Four years later we moved again but continued that tradition with only a slight change in our view. We went from the mountains of Southern California to the beach boardwalks of South Florida.
This year was the first time that I didn’t get to partake in these traditions with my family. With my dreams of traveling to all ends of the earth, I have a feeling it may not be my last. So this year I started a new tradition: celebrating the holiday with friends and sharing a little piece of my American culture with them.
On Friday, my roommate and I hosted what was our Spanish friends’ first Thanksgiving dinner. We taught them about the Macys Day Parade in New York, watching football, the pardoning of a turkey and how to make a wish with a wishbone. We fed them our homemade stuffing, sweet potatoes and roasted garlic green beans.
Thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to Skype with my mom and her sisters to get the advice that I needed to win that battle against the turkey. It was tricky, and if I never see giblets again in my life I will die happy, but the struggle was worth it because our Thanksgiving table was complete with two (thankfully) delicious and juicy turkeys. My presentation skills still need some work, but I will leave that challenge for next year’s dinner.
Seeing our Spanish friends enjoy our food, learn about our traditions and get so excited about celebrating Thanksgiving like real Americans made this year’s holiday incredibly special for me. They’ve shared so much about Spain with me and now I was getting to return the favor.
This year I spent Thanksgiving in Spain, and who knows where I will be for the holidays next year. There are two things, however, that I am sure of: 1) I will carry this tradition of sharing part of my culture with others no matter where I spend Thanksgiving. 2) I am thankful to have spent my first Spanish Thanksgiving with a wonderful group of friends who have always treated me like family.