I am a proud Mexican. My home is less than 20 minutes away from the U.S. border. I always had the best of both worlds. I grew up eating the most amazing authentic Mexican food and having the opportunity to road trip in Texas almost whenever possible. Growing up in the border is a funny thing. Wherever I go, I am not consider a “full Mexican” or a “full American” because we have unique and quirky ways of speaking, our own blended traditions, and just a whole lot of blend-ness and things that make people wonder if we are a whole different species.
While Thanksgiving has complex origins and I cannot say my family or myself are expert in its history, we started sitting down the last Thursday of the month of November to be grateful for our family and our health six years ago when we thought my grandmother was not going to make it for Christmas. Ever since, we have celebrated Thanksgiving very informally, we usually buy everything from a caterer because cooking a whole turkey seems daunting to me, plus we know it will taste delicious and we will probably not be tired by the time we get to sit down and eat. When my brother and I started our college studies in the U.S. it made sense, we both had the weekend off and it was a time when we could all be together again and talk about how things were going. Overall it was another reason to sit down as a family and enjoy each other’s company.
Unlike many stereotypes the media puts out there, my family is quite small, so we only need 10 chairs at the most. Some years we celebrate. Some years we don’t celebrate. Some years we have more people. Some years we have less people. Our culture is interesting, I can guarantee you very few of us Mexicans who celebrate Thanksgiving know its origins but we are so blended in the American culture it is part of some of us and we grew up hearing about it ever since I can recall. Probably the most I knew about it before doing my undergraduate college degree in the U.S. was that scene from the Adams Family movie (which is a great movie in my humble opinion).
Many of my friends celebrate Thanksgiving with their families since they can remember because it represents unity and gratitude, which are values that are deeply rooted in us as Hispanics. Many people skip school or don’t attend their extracurricular activities that day because most people don’t go anyway and the day just seems very slow on both sides of the border. All in all to say is that I can’t explain to you how or why we adopted this American tradition, aside from the story about my grandmother, but the idea of gathering and spending more family time is very appealing to my family and to many other Mexican families. Thanksgiving is one more opportunity to get together and unite. It is another opportunity to communicate, talk, and spend time in person, which is something that sometimes we forget the value of.
Now to give our Thanksgiving dinner a kick we have poblano sauce spaghetti as a side dish, we toast with dos equis, the leftovers are stuffed inside an empanada, and some families play loteria after dinner.
Hope you enjoyed this mini blog and learned a little bit about how we celebrate Thanksgiving in the border.
De mi familia a la tuya, muchas bendiciones.
Mara Schaffler | Educational Administration and Human Resources Development
is a second year in the Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education (SAAHE) program within the College of Education and Human Development.