When we were first married we invited my in-laws to come to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving. They lived in Spain, but had lived in New York for a while when my husband was little, so it wasn’t their first experience with Thanksgiving. They used to celebrate Thanksgiving with their coworkers from the United Nations and other Hispanic families. This year there would be language barriers but they were looking forward their first traditional New England dinner with my family.
|"The First Thanksgiving in Plymouth" by Brownscombe|
However, our dinner would turn out a bit differently....
We set out from New Hampshire in a snowstorm, which was alarming enough, but the storm only worsened as we drove along to my parent’s house in Massachusetts. When we arrived there was a full house containing my grandmother, my sister, neighbors, my parents plus all of us. Everyone settled down to chat and share a glass of wine (a case of Spanish wine supplied by Hubby and Father-in-law) when the power went out. My mother began to panic, since the dinner was only half cooked. It didn’t bother the rest of us, as we munched on cheese and crackers and lit a fire in the fireplace.
Time passed. We opened another bottle. In the gloom my grandmother began to chat with my Spanish mother-in-law. More time passed. The snow stopped falling
We opened a third bottle of wine. Mom was still panicking over the turkey and fixings. More time passed. We were still in the dark, but everyone was having a great time. We searched the basement pantry and found boxes of crackers, jars of pickles and a canned ham (just in case the lights didn’t come back up). Dad considered firing up the grill to finish cooking the turkey.
With the next bottle of wine my Father-in-law began speaking in English to my family. Even my Dad began to speak Spanish for the first time in his life. More wine. More time passed. We piled blankets on my grandmother to keep her warm. Hubby set out for the other side of town with Mom’s turkey (the friends over there had lights and had just removed their turkey from the oven, and were keeping stove warm for us to finish roasting our turkey).
Time passed. Another bottle of Spanish wine. The neighbors were singing Thanksgiving hymns in chorus as we began to open cans to set the table with cold food. Everyone toasted in both English and Spanish. My grandmother said it was the best Thanksgiving she had ever been to in 80 years. We all applauded (except for Mom who was still worried about her turkey).
Another bottle, and suddenly Hubby arrived just after dark with a turkey that filled the house with a familiar aroma. Everyone staggered to the table just as the lights came back on. What a feast! Potato chips, pickles, canned ham, roast turkey, hot and cold side dishes! Conversation flowed in two languages, and there was laughter as everyone dug in for dinner. It was a very non-traditional meal, but who cared since we were having a wonderful time. Another toast with another bottle of Spanish wine.
I don’t remember driving home to New Hampshire, but I do know it wasn’t me behind the wheel.
Hubby’s parents still talk fondly about that Thanksgiving. They tell everyone in Spain how a traditional Thanksgiving is celebrated in Massachusetts. It’s a good thing my mother isn’t there to hear the story!
Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo