Grace Us With Your Holiday Memories

Cuban Holidays

Miami, circa around 1973

I don’t remember having turkey for Thanksgiving when I was little. I am sure we did sometimes. I have the memory of one particular Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house in Miami, listening to my Tia and my grandmother argue over whether the massive bird in the oven was finally ready. I was standing near them, sneaking some turrón. I do know for sure that we ate lechon and black beans for Thanksgiving and I don’t remember having stuffing.

I focused on the differences between my Cuban family and what I believed to be more traditional Thanksgivings because when I spent the holiday with my biological father’s American family — lovely people of Norwegian and Scottish stock — my little American grandma, who looked like Santa Claus’s wife, spent a great amount of time baking pies from scratch, and serving a table worthy of a Rockwell painting. There were no black beans.

One experience was not better than the other, they were just different. The Americans, who lived in the Tampa area, went out and bowled after dinner. The Cubans sat in the Florida room and had cafecitos. Oh, and there was loud talking with the Cubans. Always loud talking. Never with the Americans.

The unifying factors: Cousins. Always cousins. Lots of cousins. (What fun primos are). And the expression of gratitude. Always gratitude, whether the prayer was said in English or Spanish.

I love Thanksgiving. The ritual of gathering with people you like and love, to share a good meal and warm conversation — without the need for all the extra packaging that Christmas demands — makes me happy in the soul. I thank my families — both sides — for the warm and fuzzy feeling I get as el Día de Acción de Gracias approaches and it is because of them that I walk in gratitude on a daily basis. And, the reason, I make my turkey with a Latin flavor (port wine and guava sauce, thank you) offering the best of both my worlds.

So, in this spirit, we have asked some great writers to share their stories and pictures of Thanksgivings past with the Tiki Tiki. The posts will be going up just before the holiday.

And, we are asking you to contribute too about your Thanksgiving, Posadas, Noche Buenas and New Years. (Did you have to eat 12 grapes at midnight?) We are looking for pictures of your clan at la mesa, the holiday lechon, the kids playing. You get the picture. If you would like to write an essay, feel free to share your favorite menu, your recipes, your memories, your tradition. Your heart.

We will create a posts here, and in our Flickr group, before Thanksgiving and keep it up through the New Year.

For information about how to submit, check our contributor’s page or contact us at info @ tikitikiblog punto com.

Our space here is about the familial, and we can think of no better way to celebrate our first blog holidays than by reaching out to you, our readers, and highlighting you and yours.

Buen provecho y gratitude.

Share, por favor!

By Carrie on November 12, 2009 · Posted in headline, the habla habla

4 Comments | Post Comment

Tia Mirtha says:

Sobrina, maybe you don’t remember,, but we never, never had lechon on Thanksgiving. It was always Turkey.. but.. with Congri Oriental made by Tia Martha and Yuca. Mama would get the turkey ready the night before with adobo Cubano, I don’t remember the stuffing and on top she would put bacon. Next day early in the morning she would put it in the oven to be cook and we would eat around 6 or 7PM, Cuban time. That was when the grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents were alive. Now, since there are so few of us left, we have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner American style. I truly miss those days.

Posted on November 12th, 2009

Carrie says:

I have lechon on the brain, then.
And, now I am super hungry.
Thanks, Tia!

Posted on November 13th, 2009

Ana Granda says:

Prima could not help but to add a comment……LOVED thanksgiving with the family….yes we were and continue to be loud before, during and after dinner, but how wonderful to be able to share the love with like you said, not only family but the occasional stray friend….Me too since I have been gone from the motherland (Miami) for so long, Thanksgiving is not just for family but for those that have no where to go which just makes our family experience so much better. The boys growing up where very comfortable in inviting their friends who maybe were not as lucky as we were to share and that too became a lesson for all of us…….to this day not only my friends but theirs too often call to see if we are doing anything (always) to stop by after they have Lunch with their families…..And this year we are having a Texas tradition “Fryed Turkey” YUMMY! it is to dye for. Come by after you Tennesse dinner we will just be getting started…..Love you :0)

Posted on November 13th, 2009

Tia Mirtha says:

Mi prima Ana, you are a little late. We here in Florida already had “Fryed Turkey” for the past 4 years. Specially if you do it with “Mojo Criollo”, my old boss at work, that is his specialty every year at CGPD. Enjoy it prima.. it does taste great.
un beso

Posted on November 14th, 2009