By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Thanksgiving is a time for family. And a time for friends. And when loved ones gather, there’s sure to be lively conversation and fellowship.
In the past, I’ve written about the way my family has celebrated Thanksgiving. Ever the consummate hostess, my mom’s talents — which are many — shine best when she has a table set with piping hot comfort food and is surrounded by people eagerly enjoying the fruits of her hard labor. So, it’s no surprise that my family’s history of Thanksgivings have spanned the gamut from quiet affairs to bubbling scenes filled with family occupying every square inch of my parents’ home.
And sometimes I feel like there’s something a little miraculous about the feasts she prepares because — even when it seems like we should — we never run out of food. Not even that one year when people filled the kitchen, dining room, living room and several folding tables we had to set up in the garage at the last minute. Even that year people were able to fill their plates with seconds and thirds.
And each year, no matter who has joined us to celebrate Thanksgiving, we begin the meal by first linking hands and bowing our heads as my dad says a prayer with the practiced grace of a lifelong minister. Sometimes the prayer is in Spanish, sometimes in English, but regardless of the language his baritone voice easily projects throughout the house. Then mom leads as we take turns reflecting aloud about something we’re thankful for.
After that, it’s time to dig in. For the first few minutes, the loudest sounds are that of our silverware clinking, but soon enough, the conversations begin to crescendo again. This is probably my favorite part of Thanksgiving, because it’s at this time that things can get comical.
When you’re halfway to a food coma on so many different starches and carbs, you start to get quite comfortable in your conversation. And when there are so many people sharing a meal, and so many conversations going on at once, well, sometimes it’s like playing a game of telephone.
I don’t remember what sparked the question, but what I do remember is that my mom asked a very simple question one year, “Que es eso?”
“What is that?” in Spanish.
By the time the query had made it halfway down the table, one of my aunts was asking why my mom wanted to know about cheese, which is “queso” in Spanish. It’s become a running joke among me and my siblings.
Another year, my sister and I had been discussing why eating turkey makes people so sleepy. Supposedly, it’s because turkey contains tryptophan. We’d spent a few minutes discussing it when another aunt piped up. “Hey, did you all know there’s something in turkey that makes you sleepy? Do you know what it is?”
My sister and I couldn’t help but laugh.
But perhaps funniest of all was the time mom had tasked my brother with toasting the dinner rolls in the oven. He had a second batch going as we sat down to eat. A few minutes later, he jumps out of his chair and yells, “My buns are burning!”
We’ve never let him live it down.
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