As I promised I am going to share our experience having Thanksgiving in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I’ve had people ask if “they” celebrate Thanksgiving in Mexico. Well, the answer is that Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday celebrated exclusively in the United States. It was a meal shared between the pilgrims and the indigenous people. I’m not sure what the menu looked like and after sharing a meal with my friends and neighbors here in Mexico, I wonder if we have it anywhere near correct.
Anyway, we were chatting about Thanksgiving one day and decided to invite the neighbors in our small apartment complex. Of course it is the end of November and usually the weather is wonderful, so we went with the “more the merrier” philosophy and invited friends of friends as well. Sheri and I were in charge of the turkey (we had to cook 2), stuffing, gravy, and Sheri’s famous sweet potatoes. Stephanie was fixing a ham and cranberry sauce, Erik and Kalahari were in charge of mashed potatoes. After that, we told people to bring whatever they wanted. We heard promise of tamales and fresh tortillas. What showed up were beautiful salads, green bean casserole, home made pumpkin pie, key lime pie, chocolate cake, dinner rolls, apple/mango pie, quinoa salad, fresh sangria, red and white wines, coke, sprite, and flavored water along with a number of things I’m sure I’m forgetting.
The food was obviously delicious and mostly home made. But it wasn’t the food that made the evening so special. It was the people. Several people mentioned that they had “never had ‘that’ before” indicating the whole turkey. Turkey is a common enough meat in Mexico, but most people do not have ovens, so a roasted whole turkey was something they had only seen pictures of as a US tradition. We were especially pleased that Alfredo and his family joined us. There are times in Mexico where the old ways are endearing and times where they are infuriating. Alfredo and his wife are hard working, wonderful people who are often treated badly by some of the elitist Mexican middle and upper class. We were so excited to have him and his family join us as equals at a table of Thanksgiving. How much more to be thankful for when he brought his children and his mother along. I can’t think of anything to be more thankful for as I know that was a huge indication of the trust he has in our genuine friendship and our ability to provide a safe, non-threatening, non-class-based evening with all friends and family welcome at the same table.
Another highlight of the evening were meeting some of the neighbors from the US. It turns out that in one of the 14 apartments in our small complex there are two people from our home state of Washington. One from Seattle and one from Sunnyside, kind of cool since we are from the Yakima area. They are self proclaimed “anti-social” and although we have both lived there for over a year we had no idea that we were from the same state.
In addition, it was nice to spend time with other people that we definitely consider our Mexican family. Life here in Vallarta would not be the same without your guys.
Some of the neighbors said that we were like the pilgrims come to a new nation to share a meal. How heartwarming is that? I hope our presence here is a blessing for many years to come and that we continue to devvelop deep relationships with both the local people and the expats who now call this tropical paradise home. Beach Crossers is blessed to live here and as far as Thanksgiving goes, this is one for the memory books.