I told the story of Thanksgiving yesterday. It's been years since I told the story of pilgrims and indians sitting down together and enjoying a harvest. I smiled to myself as I remembered my daughters making construction paper hats with big buckles and feathers and cornucopias and children eating on paper plates shaped like turkeys.

 

I haven't thought about that original Thanksgiving in a long time. And it's the first time I told the story in Spanish.

 

A friend from Mexico asked me why so many people are cooking sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie and turkey.

 

I told her a little bit about American history. About a three day feast where indigenous Americans and Englishman came together and broke bread and gave thanks for the harvest. All that God had provided.

 

She smiled and thanked me for telling her the story.

 

And I can't get it off my mind. That reminder of why we go through the motions of preparing a feast every year.

 

I take so much for granted.

 

Like speaking Spanish.  I've done it so long that it seems ordinary.   Commonplace.   It's not.

 

There's really no reason why I should be bilingual. My family doesn't speak Spanish.  But from the time I was 9 years old I was welcomed into the homes of dear Cuban families who had immigrated in the early 1960s. to Florida.  They taught me their language and I learned about salsa and Celia Cruz.  About ropa vieja and platano frito.  About Cuba in its hey-day.  About losing your country. Your home.  And moving to a country who does not share your culture or your language. These families have left indelible marks on my heart. They helped shape the person I am today.  

When I've traveled to Puerto Rico and South America people have asked me if I'm Cuban. I always smile because I do feel a little bit Cuban in my heart.

 

Learning Spanish created a bridge into another world.  Not at all ordinary for a little farm girl from north Florida.

 

My friend from Mexico reminded me of this.  Of all the gifts God has given me.  And I am so grateful.

 

 

 

*Salsa- a popular music of Latin American origin (the Cubans claim they invented it)

*Celia Cruz- Cuban singer/performer who is one of the most popular salsa artists of the 20th century. Often called the "Queen of Salsa". 

*Ropa vieja- literally means "old clothes" but is a popular Cuban dish of shredded steak in a tomato sauce. 

*Platano frito - fried plantain