Written by R. D. Balsa Friday, 09 December 2011 00:00
Last month, we were obliged to be "thankful" be it by tradition, religious convictions, or good old-fashioned peer pressure by those at the dinner table. Although a lovely holiday, Thanksgiving, much like Christmas and Valentine's Day, seems to have lost the essence behind which it was founded. The idea, of course, is to gather with loved-ones around a dinner table and put our consumer-driven, material-obsessed, technology-dominated lives on pause long enough to express gratitude for the many persons, conveniences, liberties and responsibilities which often make dinner with loved-ones a rarity any other night of the year. We then proceed to prove just how thankful we are for our many blessings by gorging ourselves with what can only be described as a mountain of food.
In the interest of fairness, I must admit that there is nothing about Thanksgiving I dislike. I love my loved-ones (hence the term), I love the chance to thank everything and everyone I deem special in my life, and any time the term "mountain of food" is uttered, my heart skips a beat .That said, I can't help but feel saddened by the fact that despite the many genuine, significant and truly precious gifts we have for which to be thankful on a daily basis, we are obligated to set aside just one day to remind the masses to give thanks.
For gay men and women the list of 'blessings' has grown exponentially. Our sexuality is, for the most part, accepted within most social groups. Gay marriage is now a reality in several states and many others are considering it. We are now more often portrayed as role models on TV, movies, books and most nationally circulated magazines. As Latinos, the list of blessings may be expanded even further. With few exceptions, we are not only welcomed, but we are also desired by our communities. In fact, in most cases where Latinos are predominant, we ARE the community. Our traditions are not only acknowledged; they are also enjoyed by other social and ethnic groups. And since many of us came or were brought to this country in search of rights and opportunities not available in our home land, what more can we be thankful for than the reality of living and working in an adoptive country that bestows upon its immigrants many of the rights granted to those born here?
I suppose in an ideal world, every person living on U.S. soil would be thankful for the numerous blessings this country (and the life it affords him/her) has to offer AS they are experienced and enjoyed and not when triggered by copious amounts of food. Until that fateful day, we'll have to settle for the typical culinary reminders: turkey, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and candied yams. As Latinos, our culinary Thanksgiving triggers include all those delicious dishes plus generous sides of roasted pork, rice, beans, plantains, and the inevitable snide remark from abuelo reassuring everyone that although delicious, the food in this country will never measure up to the finger-licking, mouthwatering, had-to-slaughter-it-with-my-own-hands food from his homeland.
© 2011 by R. D. Balsa. All Rights Reserved.