By Father Marco Rangel
Special to The Texas Catholic
As a Mexican priest who grew up in the United States, I was blessed to experience both cultures and their richness.
One example of this was Thanksgiving, or el Día del Guajolote/Pavo (Turkey Day). What was particularly unique was a reversal of roles when explaining to my parents about Thanksgiving as we learned about it in school.
I recall my father’s employer would give them a turkey for Thanksgiving, which was the main reason we started having it, and usually the only time of the year we ate turkey.
But unlike my friends, we would not have a baked turkey.
Like many Hispanics, my mother’s oven was filled with pots, pans, and dishes, so it was seldom if ever used as an oven. She would prepare the turkey in the Mexican traditional fashion of mole, which is a dark spicy and chocolate-flavored sauce, along with a side of Mexican rice to be eaten with hand-made tortillas.
It would also be cooked late in the afternoon for an evening dinner, so we would spend the day watching television, playing outside, or playing some board games like lotería, which some people call Mexican bingo.
Several of my family members, however, did not like turkey as much so my mother would also make tamales, pozole, or something else.
Over the years, I remember traveling to spend Thanksgiving with relatives or hosting them. My family would then experiment with different ways of cooking the turkey, and even trying out new “American” side dishes, but they always seemed like intruder dishes to many who were more content with enjoying the tamales, pozole, birria, tacos, or other more traditional Mexican dishes.
Also, while many of my friends grew up watching football games and parades, in my family, the women would be inside preparing the food and talking, while the men would gather outside or in the garage to talk. Meanwhile the kids would just run rampant all over the place until it was time to eat dinner.
However, the essential thing remained, gathering as a family, giving thanks to God for his blessings, and sharing a wonderful bounty as a family that often had not seen one another in a while.
Father Marco Rangel is pastor of St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Plano.