Recently I went to La Biblioteca Pública (The Public Library – a private institution), which has a small shop where I purchased Atención, the bilingual newspaper of San Miguel (10 pesos). I cut across the open-air “reading room” to the cafe that is also part of the Biblioteca and ordered una rebanada de pastel de chocolate (a slice of chocolate cake) and a latte, then proceeded to read a column by Norman Araiza titled Serentity and harmony: words worth remembering.
Clouds gathered as I sat in the open-air cafe, and night began to slip in as the afternoon edged towards 6 p.m. I still had to shop for groceries.
There were quite a few people on the streets also headed home as I walked to shops, and the shops were busy as well. I was in line waiting to pay at a tienda in my colonia. This tienda has a non-electronic scale and has no electric cash register. As in many shops, the cash register consists of four parts: a pencil, a note pad on which the owner or cashier writes the price of the items that have been weighed or counted, a hand calculator, and the owner-cashier’s pocket (or sometimes a drawer, bag, or box) in which cash is kept.
Checking out is a time-consuming process, as one might imagine, especially when a family of six is ahead of you. Sometimes the cashier has to run off to fetch some eggs or other items the customer has forgotten.
A woman got in line behind me, then a man and his wife decided not to join our line but to form a second line at right-angles to ours. I advanced to the place of honor to check out and I noticed that the man and his wife “cut in line” ahead of the woman who was behind me. I don’t know the dynamics of that particular situation: whether they all knew one another, whether the couple asked if they could get in front of the woman, whether machismo was at work, etc. I just credited it to a Mexican state of grace.
Thanksgiving in México
There are many who ask, “When do Mexicans celebrate Thanksgiving?” I think what they are asking is “When do Mexicans celebrate the stereotypical meal served on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States of America and the second Monday of October in Canada?” I don’t need to answer that do I? Many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans NoB (north of the border) may celebrate the holiday as los estadounidenses celebrate it, while others might prefer traditional fiesta dishes from their native regions.
An estadounidense blogger in another part of México, sounding as cheerful as we imagine the 1950s to have been, wrote:
Hiring our housekeepers to help prepare the meal, serve and clean up makes celebrating the holiday less stressful.
The cost of domestic help in Mexico is so affordable that we don’t think twice and our helpers love to earn the extra pesos. And they always go home with mucho leftovers for their families to enjoy.
The Plimoth Colony (just 100+ years removed from Martin Luther’s Theses and 80+ years from Henry VIII and the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church) survived thanks to the generous help from indigenous peoples. However, theirs was not the first European giving of thanks in the Western Hemisphere. In 1598 a troop of Spaniards arrived in Nuevo México (today’s state of New Mexico in the U.S.A.) and were:
Safe and grateful for the expedition’s deliverance from the extreme hardships of the journey [most of the hardships had been introduced by fellow Spaniards – ed. note], [Don Juan Pérez de Oñate y Salazar] ordered that the travelers construct a church with a nave large enough to hold the entire camp. Inside the church, on April 30, 1598, the first Thanksgiving celebration of European colonists in the New World was held.
Historical Text Archive: Don Juan de Oñate and the First Thanksgiving
by Adams & Kendrick
Thanksgiving in San Miguel
These menus were gathered from advertisements in Atención.
Restaurant 1: Cream of Carrots with Orange Zest, Traditional Waldorf Salad, Turkey, Herbed Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Gravy, Steamed Vegetables, Whipped Potatoes, Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream
Hotel Restaurant 1: Toasted Almond Cream Soup, Waldorf Salad, Turkey, Jalapeno Cornbread Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Gravy, Vegetables, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin or Mincemeat or Golden Pecan Pie
Restaurant 2: Cream of Carrot-Orange, Special Green Salad, Turkey, Cornbread-celery Stuffing, Cranberry Jell, Giblet Gravy, Green Beans, Yam Casserole, Pumpkin Pie or Chocolate Cake
Hotel Restaurant 2: Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Apple Sauce, Green Beans, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin Pie
Jazz Club: Ginger-Apple Salad, Honey-Glazed Mezcal Turkey, Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Gravy, Green Bean Casserole, Banana Split