It’s the holiday season again. How did Thanksgiving get here so fast?
In an earlier blog post, I talked about how my mother was a Supermujer–always running around doing a million and one things, advocating for the voiceless and fighting the good fight. Thanksgiving, however, was her nemesis. One of them anyway. In a way, you could say that it’s all my fault since I am the reason we started celebrating Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Mexico and it wasn’t a holiday my parents were keen on adopting when we first arrived in this country. They felt similarly about some of the other American holidays.
Why do we have give you presents on Christmas? That’s what Three Kings Day is for!
And forget Halloween, that time of year is reserved for honoring your deceased loved ones and not dressing up like witches and fairies. ¡Qué horror!
But what could my poor parents do? I would come home from school with math problems and crazy ideas about turkeys and pilgrims and Indians. I pleaded with them to celebrate Santa Claus, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. In order to shut me up (ever try to out talk a five-year-old?), they conceded to celebrating holidays that they didn’t fully understand.
Every Thanksgiving my mother would dutifully buy and roast the emblematic turkey because I insisted that it had to be so. One year they actually brought a live turkey home and slaughtered it in the basement to my great horror. She made picadillo every year and called it “stuffing.” Instead of macaroni and cheese, she would make espaghetti con crema (spaghetti in a Mexican cheesy tomato sauce). She spent hours and hours cleaning and cooking every year in order to please her two children, and days and days feeling the stress, frustration, and anger that the holidays bring to all those who attempt to host.
My mother would make sure that we were all showered and dressed and by the time she got around to jumping into the shower, the first guests had already arrived. She felt rushed, overwhelmed, and highly pressured to not only be a perfect professional, mother, wife, cook, housekeeper, and now (of all things) a hostess of a holiday she’d rather not celebrate. Inevitably, something would go wrong and by the end of the night she’d be completely miserable and drained.
A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to give my mom a break and cook the entire Thanksgiving myself. I went CRAZY! How my mother was able to balance the laborious cooking and cleaning and mothering and wifing, even for just one night, was beyond me. I could barely manage the meal and I refused to clean and deal with anyone’s shenanigans. It was then I realized why my mother had always looked so tormented during the holidays. It was already hard enough to be a Supermujer in your everyday life but now you had to put on a show, too? Forget that!
Every year my parents try to convince me that we should cater our Thanksgiving meal. They say they want me to enjoy the day instead of exhausting myself with all the work that goes into this one meal. They know what they’re talking about, they survived some pretty bad holidays, after all. What they don’t realize is that every year that I cook Thanksgiving dinner, I am doing my best to thank them (especially my Mama) for their superheroic effort of trying to making their children happy even at the cost of their own happiness.
This desire to put the well-being and happiness of others ahead of your own is something we see in many of the Supermujeres we interview. So, this Thanksgiving I want to encourage you to thank the Supermujeres in your life for all the sacrifices they make to ensure your joy and your well-being.
Gaby Ortiz Flores is an Ensemble Member and the Developer of Supermujeres: Women Who Serve and Protect a production scheduled to open fall of 2013. She will be cooking two turkeys for Thanksgiving this year.