almost two decades now here in Baja and it's interesting watching certain
things evolve. Thanksgiving...an inherently American holiday...is one of them.
it seemed that I had to explain the holiday to locals, but when you mention a
"Day of Thanks" (Dia de Gracias), all would nod with an understanding smile. An oft-heard phrase to
punctuate a sentence in normal
conversation is "Gracias a Dios." (Thank the Lord). It's not made to underscore
a feeling of exasperation as in English where you might hear," Thank God,
I didn't forget to turn off the stove!"
Spanish, it's a sincere form of gratitude even if not necessarily
religious. Like folks
automatically saying "bless you" after someone sneezes. In Mexico, "gracias a
Dios" is said
with a smile, with no frustrated rolling -of -the -eyes towards the heavens.
am fine, thank the Lord."
"Great. Everything is super. Thank God."
would get quizzical looks when trying to explain the American version of
gringos. Watch football all day. Eat turkey and gravy. Take a long nap. Watch more football. Eat more turkey. Take another nap!
the years have gone by, the "holiday" of "Gracias a Dios"
has permeated Mexican life, at least here in La Paz. It's gotten a
it's because so many tourists from the U.S. show up and seem to be looking for
"holiday turkey meals." So, more tourist restaurants cater to
it. You will find places actually offering "American Turkey Dinner." (Frankly if I'm a tourist visiting in Mexico, that LAST
thing I want is turkey! Show ME
the tacos and enchiladas!)
I do find more locals not only acknowledging Thanksgiving, but also celebrating
it on their own way. While
there is no "official" day of Thanksgiving in Mexico, a day of giving
thanks and having the family together is wonderful growing concept.
I see more
whole turkeys popping up in the frozen food section of the markets. I
actually found canned cranberry sauce and I see now that they sell stuffing
families tell me of getting together for dinner during the holidays and looking
forward to "Pavo estilo Norteamericano." (polite way to say "gringo turkey") It's almost
the new rage. It's not
grilled. It's not barbecued. It's roasted in an oven. It's served with bread, not
tortillas. Mashed potatoes and
sweet potatoes not Spanish rice!
have trouble explaining "gravy." I have to call it "salsa de pavo" (turkey sauce), but I' m sure it loses something in translation!
"Salsa" in Mexico simpsly means
brown sauce that you scoop over potatoes and yams draws looks of confusion
from my Mexican amigos. "Que haces?" (You do WHAT
to your turkey?)
traditions still happily linger. Like so many Mexican holidays, I hear about families still lining up at
the dinner table for tamales along with their turkey. Thankfully, it's a tradition that is difficult to
aunties and grandmas still gather for all-night tamale-making parties to make
the flavorful stuffed dinner treats using old family recipes. It's quite an undertaking.
with families so busy, it's more convenient to order and buy them. This time of
year, tamale vendors pop up
on street corners with vats of the steaming delicacy wrapped in traditional
incredible savory fragrance of
pork, chicken, beef or chili with cheese (rajas con queso) tamales seems to permeate the air
this time of year and door-to-door tamale vendors walk the streets either
selling directly or taking orders for the holidays.
amigo! Claro que si. Servicio a su
my friend. You bet we have home
some things are universal no matter how you celebrate. After the big feed, you still want to
take the long siesta! Whether you
lie on the couch in front of the TV...sprawl on the carpet by the
fireplace...or snooze in a hammock under a Baja palm tree... some things don't
change! Gracias a
and yours have a safe and happy holiday season!