For some reason I can’t even explain, I’ve always said Thanksgiving is not a holiday I feel connected to…until now. You see, even though I’ve never hosted a Thanksgiving feast, I’ve always attended one. It’s usually over at my sister’s who loves to entertain and always has the best and most delicious concoctions for any feast. This year, however, she’s not around and for the past couple of weeks, I’ve had this strange feeling, a kind of empty feeling every time I thought about what we’d do to celebrate Thanksgiving, which is weird because didn’t I start all this by saying that I don’t feel a connection to this holiday?
At first I thought we would just ignore it, but then a couple of things happened that made me change my mind. One was I realized my daughter, Vanessa, is old enough to kind of understand what Thanksgiving is about. Moreover, that’s all they talked about in her preschool last week. Being the extremely inquisitive child she is, I thought I wouldn’t know how to answer her questions if we decided to ignore the holiday.
The second was a conversation I had with my mom about the whole issue when she asked me what we were doing for Thanksgiving and I said: nada. She told me I couldn’t do that and then went on to enumerate the reasons why. And the main reason was that even though we are Peruvian and Thanksgiving is not a holiday we knew anything of when we moved here, both my children were born in the United States. This is their birthplace. We live here. And just as I’m teaching them to love, cherish and enjoy their Latino heritage, I should do the same with their American one. Once again, she’s totally right!
Truth is that if I’m trying to raise my kids bilingual and bi-cultural that means two languages and two cultures, right?
The first thing I did was start talking to Vanessa about the crafts she was bringing home from preschool. A turkey, a Pilgrim’s hat, a cornucopia. We talked about what they meant and I tried to explain why we celebrate Thanksgiving. Then I told her we were going to have a fiesta at home just the four of us and that I needed her help to make it happen. She was really excited.
Next was the menu. Although I try, I’m no cook – as most of you know by now – so that was one big hurdle I had to overcome. I didn’t want it to be a disaster, so I cheated and I got the turkey at the store and we’ll be having some traditional and some not so traditional trimmings that we’ll be making soon: white rice, a yummy salad with caramelized walnuts and my favorite: mashed yams! For dessert, I’m going completely Caribbean and I’m making my mother-in-law’s delicious Flan de Queso – wish me luck!
Finally, every night I’ve been reading Pat Mora’s latest book called “Thanks/Gracias” to Vanessa. (By the way, you can go over to SpanglishBabyFinds to read more about it and to enter a giveaway.) Its simple sentences have made it easy for my three-year-old to understand that, like the little boy in the book, she has many reasons to be thankful.
Here are some of the ones she’s come up with:
- Por mi hermanito que ya nació - For my baby brother who was finally born.
- Por mi papito que me hizo un avioncito – For my Daddy who made me a little paper plane.
- Por la luna y los angelitos – For the moon and the little angels.
- Por mi mamá que me dió una manzanita – For my Mom who gave me an apple.
I also have many reasons to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and one of them is for the awesome community created through SpanglishBaby. I’m pretty sure I can speak for Ana Lilian when I say mil gracias for being a part of it and for sharing your stories, thoughts and questions with all of us who are raising bilingual and bi-cultural children. It has been an awesome ten months.
¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias!