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A Standard Hispanic Thanksgiving

It starts with a song in the morning, loud enough to wake and remind any young adult that Thanksgiving is a day not for eating but for cooking and cleaning when their family is hosting the family dinner (there will be a chance to munch on a spare rib when a rare lull in the party occurs). The song is up-tempo (usually by one of Spanish’s canon of music artists like Aventura, Celia Cruz, Oscar de Leon) with lyrics expressing an unabashed joy for life and love or a cathartic confession of love lost. Unlike other households, there likely will not be a turkey anywhere near the home and instead, either a chicken or pig is being cooked. This is partly explained by Hispanic people fusing their own ancestral culture with American traditions and finding how to best make it work for them without giving up too much of their individuality.

The explosive aroma of spices used in the preparation easily roam through the rooms and the eyes of small children and adults alike will be filled with tears due to the vengeful nature of cut onions (any passerby will be forgiven for thinking that either tragedy struck or tear gas had been released into the home and that explains why everyone inside is crying). Cousins and uncles bustle in and out, delivering whatever food your aunts have made for the great feast. If you don’t own an adequate set of speakers, rest assured that one of your cousins will bring a decrepit, yet still booming, stereo system that can only play cassettes and CDs.

The night follows predictable patterns with grand hearty laughter, the recitation of annual family stories always told at large gatherings, the usual gossip about Fulano and Fulana (general Hispanic names) and the typical people having too much to drink and the vow to never invite them back (But they’re family and are always forgiven). When the party is over, usually around 2am, the long goodbyes people give (those goodbyes that prompt a spiral of conversational topics) extend the night for at least an extra hour. Whatever leftovers remain are sealed up and planned to be made breakfast in the morning. Everyone goes home with full bellies and an extra plate or two for those who couldn’t make it. You’ll see them all again for Christmas and you’re thankful for that.

Senior at the University of Miami.
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