Anita was thrilled beyond belief. For three months, she had been talking to her mom and sister in San Juan, Puerto Rico, planning the Great Gutierrez Reunion, known to most everyone else as Thanksgiving, 2014.
It was not only her mom and sister, but her sister’s three children, along with Anita’s two aunts and uncle from Maryland who would gather at Anita’s three-bedroom apartment in Orlando to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. It definitely was not a typical Thanksgiving for the Gutierrez family. Every other year, the family celebrated the holiday in their own towns. They simply could not afford to travel, so Anita had not seen her mom, sister, nieces, nephews and other relatives for 12 long years. While she appreciated the convenience of “Skypeing”, it was simply not the same as spending time together in person.
When Anita’s family got together, they had more fun than any family she knew. They talked for hours, sharing funny stories of life in their cities and the messes their kids got into. They loved music, and Uncle John even played guitar while the rest of the family sat around the living room and sang. And, of course, the food – oh the delicious, comforting food! Anita had such vivid, happy memories of the family together in the kitchen, preparing mofongo and her mom’s signature banana flan. Anita couldn’t wait to taste her mom’s specialties again – she planned to have her mom cook at least half the nights she was visiting. This apartment has the nicest kitchen she had even seen. It was her favorite thing when they toured it earlier in the year.
But Thanksgiving would be the best time to experience her family’s fun, warmth and – of course – food. While Anita and her sister planned to cook some of the traditional American favorites such as turkey and stuffing, her mom, aunts and uncles were opting to make traditional Puerto Rican Thanksgiving dishes. They include pavachon, turkey roasted like a suckling pig; mofongo stuffing, or plantain turkey stuffing; Arroz con Gandules, or rice with pigeon peas; and rum cake. She could almost smell the delicious food in the apartment air already.
But the best part of Thanksgiving, Anita knew, would be soaking up every moment with her family whom she missed so much. This year, as the clan prepares to gather in her apartment, Anita felt very thankful for the opportunity to all be together.
While the story of Anita and her family is a fictional one, it is one that many Americans are experiencing this Thanksgiving. They are gathering in their apartments with friends and family from near and far, watching football, playing games, singing songs, and relishing the time together.
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