Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto, goes the first line of the world famous Mercedes Sosa song that tells the story of the singer/writer’s gratitude for the many blessings that life has given to her. It’s an anthem-like ballad that depicts the notion of giving thanks as not only a way of life, but also a point of view. It’s no coincidence that Sosa is from Argentina; a Latin country where, like all the others, gratitude is a conscious part and parcel of people’s everyday lives.
Cue Thanksgiving, the all-American holiday whose questionable origins sometimes leave many Americans—especially the minority, Spanish speaking, immigrant-minded ones among us—feeling unsure about what it is we’re really bestowing our turkey-stuffed thanks for. So, at the risk of going on a long tirade about Thanksgiving’s built-in moral paradox, let’s instead look at the real benefits we can all gain from this iconic holiday—benefits that somehow or another all tie in naturally with the Latin family schema of tradition.
For the understandable bad rap that the history of this particular holiday tends to receive, there’s no getting around the many positive qualities it today evokes from us as families. And at the top of that list is the built-in sense of conscious gratitude that this November feast so literally points out. On this day, we are encouraged to stop, look around and take stock of the different blessings we have in our lives. It is a day that asks us to stop the grind so that we can really and truly focus on the things in our lives that matter the most—our loved ones. It reminds us grown-ups to unplug, kick back and zero in—and it teaches our kids from an early age about the beauty of being thankful.
If modernity has taught us any collective lesson, it is that distractions such as work, technology and everything in-between are quick to get in the way of our down time at home. Work, for many of us, is at home, which can makes cultivating quality family time sometimes challenging. Enter again Thanksgiving—the holiday that says, “You are not going to work, not today and not tomorrow. You are going to sit in your sweats with your people and like it.”
CELEBRATION OF ABUNDANCE
And what is Thanksgiving without a proper smorgasbord? This holiday is both culinary and cozy, a gathering that fills homes with sweet and savory smells; a celebration of classic dishes, whose recipes get passed along and modified from generation to generation (i.e., Aunt Paulette’s Famous Gluten-Free Stuffing), adding a predictably fun night of gastronomy to our country’s array of celebrations. Gobble, gobble.
So think about it this way: if your stomach turns every time your tween asks how the Native Americans were “so down with” the Colonists taking over, consider explaining to him or her that we have come a long way since the Pilgrims, and that today Thanksgiving means just what is says—a time to be with the people you love most, enjoy one another and very simply bless the whole thing with your most heartfelt gratitude. It’s a time to say that how we got here is less important than what it is we’re actually going to do while we’re here.