It’s that day again, the third Thursday of November, when Americans in the U.S. fill our faces at extravagant mid-day meals of turkey and stuffing, potatoes and pumpkin pie, while carefully avoiding Aunt Susan’s mysterious “casserole” and Uncle Joe’s politics.
The story of the “First Thanksgiving” that most kids in the U.S. learn in school is (at best) a fairy tale of togetherness and cooperation, where in celebration of their first harvest, recent European immigrants (escaping religious oppression in the Old Country) generously shared a meal with their kind Native American neighbors. There is no mention of smallpox or slaughter (well, except for the unfortunate turkey!) Everyone is friendly and all hostilities are forgotten in a rainbow of religious benevolence.
We know that’s not how it happened, but nevertheless, Thanksgiving has been repurposed in the modern-day as a time of plenty, a Harvest celebration (religious or not) in which we are thankful for all the bounty this land (or at least the supermarket) has provided and that we can take off work for a couple of days and watch football. (Why do they call it “football,” when most of the time the ball is in the players’ hands? We just don’t get it.)
The Bay Area is full of diverse cultures, and while our differences sometimes set us apart, Thanksgiving is a time that brings us together on a plate, when one can find a cornucopia of flavors meshed all on one fork. A turkey rubbed with South Indian spices or chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. A side of kimchi or couscous, or a plate of lumpia. And everyone knows it’s the beginning of an intense tamale season.
Later, mostly comatose on
tryptophan (or what might be referred to by people who can’t pronounce words
like “tryptophan” as “ that sleepy
turkey enzyme”) we chill and begin planning for Christmas (you know, that
holiday the retailers have been pushing since the beginning of October?)
Many of our immigrant families are only beginning to be inundated with U.S. cultural traditions. What a wonderful opportunity for those who celebrate to share their bounty with others! Why not invite a friend from work to share your meal (maybe they can distract your chatty cousin Marie for a while), or open their consciousness to the indescribable wonder that is leftover pie. Take time to to think of all the ways you can contribute to the community. Begin to consider the things you take for granted. Get a jump start on those New Year’s resolutions. (Naaaah, just kidding on that one.)
Thanksgiving has a brutal history of colonialism, but we can certainly still be thankful for our communities and the many cultures that contribute to our country’s fabulous patchwork quilt. Whether we eat foods native to the Americas or bring our own international flavors to the table, we can all be grateful for what we have: family and friends, a roof over our heads, and (maybe a little too much) food in our bellies.
No matter how you celebrate, we at Kasa de Franko are grateful for you, our friends and family. Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!