Thanksgiving: NYC Puertoriqueno Style

I’m finally getting around to writing about my surprisingly wonderful Thanksgiving this year. So because of the timing of my beginning work, I was unable to take off any days for Thanksgiving, which meant I had to work Friday. So that pretty much meant I wouldn’t be going back to Chapel Hill, and it would be pointless to travel anywhere, really. I was invited by a friend from high school who lives here and who’s parents were up for the holiday, but I also accidentally mentioned that I didn’t really have plans for Thanksgiving to one of my coworkers, who immediately said I should come to her sister’s in the Bronx. At first, I was a bit hesitant. This is a coworker who I’ve gotten to more or less be friends with; she’s from New York, really fun and high energy. She has a daughter my age who is (well, now was) pregnant, and she’s had some trials and tribulations in her life, but she’s worked really hard to get to where she is. She is now getting a bachelor’s degree, and I helped edit one of her papers recently. So we’ve gotten to be kind of friends, in the weird way that only working with someone can create the space for.

So I decided that was the better option–the friend from Chapel Hill was just having Thanksgiving with her nuclear family, and although I really did appreciate the invite, I felt like it would be intruding a bit. But going to Gloria’s (my coworkers) I felt better about because it would be so many more people, even if they were all family. So, Thursday morning I woke up, figured out (with a bit of difficulty) that they weren’t eating until 5pm (very late from what I’m used to, but no problem), and managed to get up to the Bronx around then. I had to take a train and two buses to get there, but I did manage.

The gathering was at Gloria’s sister’s apartment. Their brother came, as well as their mother, and then an assortment of all of their children (maybe 4 or 5 of that generation?), including Gloria’s very pregnant daughter, Mel (or Mal?), and her husband. Her due date was on Thanksgiving, and she definitely looked like she was about to pop and was just ready to be done with the whole pregnancy thing.

So we hung out a bit, waiting for food. It was very relaxed and nice, and then ate some delicious food, and after food, we played Wii bowling (video game). What I was actually the most surprised by was how “normal” it seemed to me, and how comfortable I was. It felt so much like that “home” feeling. And obviously, they are not my family, but it was really nice to know that even with people who aren’t my family, I can at least have an approximation of that wonderful feeling of welcome. Of unconditional acceptance from people who are not those you chose. So, on this Thanksgiving, I was thankful for the ability to feel alive and happy, despite the frustrating circumstances of not being able to see my family.