21 Nov The DIY Thanksgiving Story
When I think about Thanksgiving, the first thing that comes to mind is family. Not food. Not out-of-state guests. Just spending a day with the ones you love the most. There is no one in my life who emphasizes the importance of family as much as my mother, Jacqui. This post is about the most loving and dedicated person in the world and how she single-handedly saved Thanksgiving.
To be a mom is to be completely and utterly selfless at all times. I cannot think of anyone who personifies this better than my Mami. Even when her kids were being Grade A assholes. Even when all three of her children, including her infant, had come down with the world’s worst case of the chicken pox. She was still selfless when her bratty teen (aka me) begged to go to Disney World for Pom Pom Nationals and she knew damn well she didn’t have the money this little biatch was guilting her out of. Or spending money for the same hard-headed knucklehead (guilty again) to get married for the second time. Through it all- being a mother means to make more sacrifices than you would’ve ever imagined.
There was never a time my mom is not there for myself and my two sisters. Hell, she’s played mom to all of our friends at one point or another in their lives. She has even gone as far as taking a few friends into her home and raising them as her own. One of my sister’s best friends literally joined the rest of the family in a hand painted, slightly creepy, family portrait my mom proudly showcases in her living room. She’s cutthroat when it comes to her kids and has and will sacrifice everything to make sure our lives are happy and healthy. I’m 30, married with 3 children and she still pays my phone bill. Wow- I didn’t realize until this very moment how much of a “scrub” move that is on my part. Ah well- I never said I was perfect.
Although I don’t quite have proof, I’m almost positive that the day my mom entered this world- she did that shit in style. I wouldn’t be surprised if her first baby pictures were that of an infant rocking a bad ass pompadour and extremely oversized sunglasses. Jacqui was born into a proud Mexican family. Don’t get my mom started on what the world can solely thank Mexico for- Chocolate, silver, salsa (the dance and the dip) the list goes on and on. Most importantly, she was born into a family that put emphasis on loyalty, love and strength.
My older sister and I were born in California and my parents moved to Virginia when I was 4 years old. With two children and very little money, my parents had their plates full and they had mastered the art of stretching a dollar. Every holiday was memorable, to say the least. One Christmas, my parents were tight on cash so my mom found a small branch, spray painted it gold, stuck ornaments on it and called it a “Christmas tree”. One Halloween, we were also tight on cash, so she wrapped my sister in a mint green bed sheet, put a tiara on her head and called her the Statue of Liberty. And let’s not forget the Spring of ’95 when my mom got in a fight with the Easter Bunny because he decided he wanted to clock out a little early. We had been in line for over two hours, it was nearly closing time and he was ready to leave, but all she wanted him to do was to let my sisters and I sit on his “fucking lap and get a dumb ass egg sticker”. (We got that sticker by the way). With all the crazy holiday stories my family has, nothing sticks out more than the first Thanksgiving we spent on the east coast.
We moved into a small apartment in Northern Virginia two weeks before Thanksgiving with little to no furniture and little to no money. This was going to be my mother’s first holiday without her siblings and parents and even though she was very sad, she was hell-bent on making this an amazing day to remember. There was only one problem- we didn’t have a table to eat on. When moving your family across country on a very small budget, you tend to pack lightly. Since we had just moved in, my parents couldn’t afford any furniture other than our beds and mattresses. Even though she had absolutely no clue how she was going to make this work, my mom assured us that come Thanksgiving, we would have a place to eat.
She got up very early on Thanksgiving morning to prepare her feast while my father took my sister and I to visit a few of our family members that lived nearby. We left with the assumption that when we came back we would be eating picnic style on the floor, but my mom had other plans. She went to the grocery store to buy all of the traditional items: a tiny turkey, a handful of mashed potatoes, a couple of yams, cranberry sauce and pie- not much, but it was more than enough for our little family. By 2 pm, my mother had successfully prepared the yams and mashed potatoes and the turkey was beautifully roasting in the oven. At this point, she only had about an hour before we got back with hearty appetites. She stood at the kitchen counter, with her hand on her hip (I know this because this is what she always does when she’s figuring something out) and her eyes frantically searched the corners of our home for a make shift dining table. And then, just like that, it hit her and she was off to set the “table”.
When we got home and my dad opened the door, the smell of roasted turkey and baked apple pie swept us off our feet. It was a long time ago, but I swear I remember the delicious aroma coming from the kitchen picking me up from under my nose and literally floating me in the house like Garfield the Cat when he smelled lasagna. Even though we were super excited to eat, we were more excited to see what we were going to eat on. When we turned the corner to our dining room and much to our surprise, there was a beautifully decorated table. I’m sure you’re wondering where she got the table. Well remember all those unpacked boxes I mentioned? She pushed a bunch of them together, draped them in our fanciest bed sheet and adorned the top with our finest mixed match plates and cups. It was everything.
That night, my family and I sat Indian style around four moving boxes and ate the best damn Thanksgiving dinner I have ever had. Even though it wasn’t the fanciest and we didn’t even have chairs, my mom taught us that the best holidays are those spent enjoying your family and being together. I literally couldn’t have picked a more incredible mother:o)
Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you spend this day celebrating and creating memories with the ones you love most. What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?