People tell me that one thing really worries them about living away from their home countries. And that is: How will we celebrate our special holidays? They fear they’ll feel nostalgic because they’ll miss the joy that’s part of being “home for the holidays”.
Our family, never has this problem because we celebrate every single one of the Canadian holidays here in Merida. Just as though we were in Canada. I decorate our living-dining room, put a wreath on the front door. On the back burner of the stove, I leave a cinnamon stick simmering in a pot of water. This way our house smells like Thanksgiving.
And definitely, we have a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I love having helpers… because as anyone who has made the traditional meal knows, it’s a big job. I find it works really well to get most of the prep work done the day ahead. While I gather around the kitchen table with my crew, we peel potatoes, cut up veggies and make bread cubes for the stuffing. And we talk about previous feasts we have shared. Thanksgiving is not traditionally celebrated in Mexico, but for our friends and relatives who live here, it has become a treasured celebration. After sharing Thanksgiving at our home, quite a number of my son’s and daughter’s friends have begun the tradition with their own families.
Some of the ingredients are not available here. So when I visit my Canadian west coast family (usually in the summer) I fly back to Merida with a can of pumpkin for the pie and poultry seasoning for the stuffing. Cranberries are available locally, and I always have a few cans stocked in my pantry – just in case someone else buys-up every can on the shelf. I also go to the dollar store and pick up Thanksgiving favors and festive napkins.
I pack Christmas provisions too – more pumpkin, a jar of mincemeat for the second pie, and candied citrus peel for the fruit cake – At Christmas, there’s no need to worry about seasonal napkins or decorations though. The stores in Merida are flooded with them from September on.
As I write this post I am waking up from a delicious siesta and I know it’s time to get the rest of the food cooked. My table for 12 is already set, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone. While they are enjoying a pre-dinner glass of wine, each person will tell the rest what they are most grateful for this year.
Maybe some of them maybe feel a bit self-conscious, but they know it is important to be aware of our many blessings. Last year everyone felt thankful to no longer living with lockdown. That seriously curtailed our Thanksgiving and we all felt happier than ever to be together again. I wonder what my loved ones feel they have to celebrate this year.
There’s no question in my mind what my biggest blessing was. One night in the spring, Jorge woke up with a pain he’d never experienced before, and he had the good sense to ask me to drive him to the hospital. I won’t go into the details of all that happened next. But as you can imagine, his heart attack would have been fatal had we not made that two-in-the-morning dash to CMA’s Emergency room.
Whether you are Canadian or not, today is a good day to give thanks. What are you most thankful for?