Why I Don’t Go Home for Thanksgiving

By Maria Ordoñez

The other day I was sitting in the dining hall, watching the brightly colored trees out the window, when I found myself drawn to a conversation happening a couple of tables away:

"Do you ever wake up on Monday morning and feel like the weekend was only two hours long?"

"All the time! But it's fine, there are only 10 days left until Thanksgiving, we just have to push through."

"I can't wait to go home for Thanksgiving, it's literally my favorite day of the year."

I was shocked, not only by the idea that there are people in this world who love Thanksgiving enough to have a countdown for it, but also by the realization that up until now I had no idea when Thanksgiving even was. As a matter of fact, my own Thanksgiving celebration last year consisted of a bountiful McDonald's feast that took place in my dorm as I binge-watched every season of American Horror Story.

That's right, I didn't go home for Thanksgiving. And this year, I'm still not going home for Thanksgiving. I know what you must be thinking, that this is the most tragic thing you've ever heard, and that you must take me home with you at once to rectify this wrong. But don't feel bad. The truth of the matter is, even if I did go home, there wouldn't be much of a celebration.

See, here, in the United States, and especially in the Northeast, Thanksgiving is a huge deal. There are relatives that fly in from all over the country.  There are mothers and grandmothers slaving away in the kitchen for days. There are football games and giant turkey floats and more food than the human body can possibly consume. It is the epitome of American culture.

But, in Latin America, it doesn't exist. It's just another day on the calendar.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like all Latinxs neglect the existence of Thanksgiving. After all, if there's anything Latinxs and Americans can agree on, it's the importance of food and family. So, a lot of Latinxs living here have adopted the tradition of El Día de Acción de Gracias (Spanish for Thanksgiving), and some have even added a hint of their own culture. So, instead of serving turkey with mashed potatoes, they serve it with arroz con gandules. And instead of baking an apple pie, they make a mean trés leches.

When my family first immigrated to the United States, I remember Thanksgiving feeling like something new and exciting that we were finally going to be able to be a part of. It was almost like a validation of us living the American dream. And so, my figured out how to make a turkey and my mom made pumpkin pie for the first time; but the older I got, the less elaborate it became. Now, it's just a day where my mom makes something a little different for dinner, and nobody has to go to work. I guess we realized that celebrating it doesn't make us any more American than we already are.

What I'm trying to say is that not everybody identifies with the celebration of Thanksgiving, and that's ok. Whether it's because you come from an immigrant family or you disagree with its origin story or for no reason at all, you don't have to feel like you're alone in opting out. Because you're not. I'm right there with you... McDonald's feast and all.


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