Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday in the world because it is a holiday that is about food, not gifts. Thanksgiving is a memory of people and shared experience, not about spending money because of a societal obligation. Because of this, I had no idea what kind of experience I was going to have living in a place where my roots are just starting to take hold.
We went Thanksgiving shopping on Tuesday, my friend Mary and I scoured the giant megastore for cranberries, turkey, green beans, and the ever necessary, bricks of butter. Success on the butter and the beans. Well, the turkey too – we scored these little girl turkeys from Brazil, pavitas, and we grabbed two of them from the nearly empty giant freezer. The cranberries were sadly never found and tangy plum marmalade was subbed in its’ place.
When I arrived at Mary’s on Thursday, I had already been living in cognitive dissonance. Always in two worlds, it was more severe on this day – life hummed as it always does in my physical space, while half a world away existed some other reality that is also my own. But it was different. Thanksgiving is about the people you love and there were many people who were in that world far, far away. Normally I spend Thanksgiving with my dear friend Marc. I even wrote a poem about it last year, closing my eyes to imagine his day of thanks at the same moment as mine. I remember feeling the distance of half a world on that day.
But this year, something was different. I walked into Mary’s house to a hurricane of cooking. Mary, an incredible cook, had prepared beautiful green beans worthy of a Gourmet photo spread and pale yellow potatoes au gratin laced with cream and cheese. I ran out to get some wine and when I came back, the smell of the pavitas filled the kitchen. Darkness had come and with that, a drop in the temperature that made it feel closer to a slightly bleak northern world November than a crisp Argentine spring evening.
Before too long the guests began to arrive. Argentines, a Cuban, a Brazilian. Only one-third of us had celebrated Thanksgiving before, so it was a treat for many of the newbies. As we were piling our plates with food, we had to show the newbies where the most delicious stuffing was (inside the bird of course), explain the plum marmalade on the table.
It was a joyous occasion – in English, Spanish and even a little Portuguese. When asked about what she was thankful for, our host put it perfectly – “I am thankful for yesterday for becoming today and today for becoming tomorrow.”