Día de Acción de Gracias

Back of the Yards, Chicago, Illinois

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m about to go out to a Thanksgiving dinner. While others are busy preparing for this cornucopious feast by shopping for groceries, cleaning the house, or cooking dinner, I’m, I’m–well, I’m busy writing my blog entry for today. However, I will buy an alcoholic beverage so I don’t arrive empty-handed at the Thanksgiving dinner today. I will also participate in the festivities by attempting to drink most of it. I love Thanksgiving because, well, because of all the food. Oh, yes, and the people with whom I eat and talk.

I always fondly remember my childhood Thanksgiving dinners at my tío Simón and tía Mari’s house. My father had a very large family, so the house was always packed with people, most of whom were related to my aunt and uncle somehow. Some of the others included friends of the family and neighbors past and present. My aunt did most of the cooking herself. She was an excellent cook! And there were never any leftovers!

As soon as people starting coming in, my aunt would start serving the food because there no possible way for everyone to sit down at the same table, at the same time to eat dinner. We had to eat in shifts and you didn’t want miss your turn because all the food would be devoured if you devoted too much time to your Margaritas. My parents in particular loved going to this dinner because this was the time to catch up on all the latest family news. My brothers and I loved going because we got to play with cousins we rarely saw. To this day, I love going to family parties because I always meet someone new who turns out to be related to me in some remote way.

Thanksgiving dinner was a special family occasion, so we had to dress up in our best clothes, something I hated to do because we’d get in trouble if we dirtied or ripped our clothes while playing. One year, my brothers and I actually wore suits and fedoras to the Rodríguez family Thanksgiving dinner. My grandfather had died the previous August and my mother said we had to wear suits to his funeral. So my three brothers and I went to Meyer Brothers on 48th and Ashland Avenue in Back of the Yards where she bought us all matching suits on credit. Since my mother had spent so much money on those suits, she would make us wear them for every special occasion, which eventually included going to Sunday mass.