Giving thanks in today’s world | Moment's Notice

By Maria A. Montalvo | Nov 21, 2018

Our Thanksgiving traditions have changed many times throughout our lives.

I grew up in Philadelphia with my Puerto Rican parents, who were not impressed by a meal of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. But they had a daughter who loved anything potato, and a son who loved sweet potatoes.

When we moved to New Mexico, we learned that you put chile in everything, and that added a whole new dimension to Thanksgiving.

We ended up with the best meal in the neighborhood, I think, with all of the traditional dishes, along with rice and beans, plantains, green chile cranberry sauce, vegetarian versions of most items, and strawberry rhubarb pie or flan.

After our move, we also began to have larger and larger tables, whether at our house or my husband’s mother’s house, years later.

Always everyone who had a home to go to for a family meal, and everyone who did not, were invited to join our celebratory gatherings.

The menu grew exponentially with each new person and new family or cultural food traditions. The tables began to wind around the dining room or were set up in other rooms. Always, the food was set in the kitchen, so the mad array of dishes could be considered.

Once we moved to Edmonds, so far from family, we have been lucky enough to be adopted by other families during this holiday.

We relished years of vegan Thanksgivings with a couple of dear friends who not only pushed our culinary boundaries, but represented the love of family we were missing.

As politics took center stage in our Novembers here in Washington, every Thanksgiving was greeted with relief as a day to focus on cooking and laughter, no matter how demanding the months before.

This year, we will visit family outside of Edmonds for Thanksgiving for the first time since we opened a small business (it is always difficult to leave a business on the day before Black Friday, so we will return home quickly).

We are thankful for the opportunity, because we get to be together with people who have grown up with us and share more than heritage. This set of cousins knows the good and difficult memories of the past.

We know the pain and confusion after losing a family member to suicide.

We felt the powerless agony of losing someone to an opioid addiction. The cousins also grew up leaning over a grandparent’s fence in rural Colorado to watch the train go by.

They went fishing together, and horseback riding, and watched fireworks, and then there were weddings and graduations.

As each grew professionally and personally, we also relived the lessons we learned from our parents, and gave kindness back.

Love comes from so many people we know, and when you can gather with a few and share memories while you are creating new ones, the cliché becomes a gem.

If there is one thing I know, I am lucky, and my husband and I am thankful for how lucky we are – family we adore and respect, friends we laugh and go on adventures with, a dog we spoil, wild challenges or trips we pursue on whims.

As Tennessee Williams says in his famous quote (that I repeat often): “Luck is believing you are lucky,” because every day you are thankful.

 

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