Thanksgiving Day gives us a chance to reflect on the previous year, and to be thankful for all that we have. While every family has its own traditions and ways of celebrating, the sentiment is largely the same. For many, it’s the culmination of days of preparation that results in sitting around a table with family and friends, sharing a meal and spending time together.
While Thanksgiving is an American holiday, the fact that is about family and being grateful makes it one that can be embraced by all cultures. In today’s busy world, a day spent sharing, laughing, and eating together is a welcome observance.
Our Boyle Heights Beat reporters shared some of their own customs; some of them are new to this holiday while others create new traditions.
Frankie Morales, 14, Los Angeles High School for the Arts
I spend every Thanksgiving helping my mother cook. In my family I am the only one of three kids who does any cooking and I’ve been helping my mom since I was in the 5th grade.
The day before Thanksgiving I help with the defrosting and seasoning of the turkey, and make pumpkin pies. On Thanksgiving Day I help with the baking of the turkey and the ham, and make gravy and salsas. This year I am going to the one cooking and my mom is going to be my assistant. For dinner we have friends and family over, give thanks and try to remember not to take things for granted.
Sylvester Foley, 14, Mendez High School for College and Career Preparation.
Before I moved to the United States, I never really knew what Thanksgiving was all about. I was born and raised in London, England and I have only been living in the United States, and in Boyle Heights for the past 2 years.
Now I understand that Thanksgiving is a time to sit around a big table, eat turkey, and give thanks for what you have. Last year my family and I did not celebrate thanks giving but this year we are thinking of going to a restaurant to eat out and spend some quality time together. It may not be the all American Thanksgiving, but it is an attempt at one.
Clarisa Diaz, 14, Animo Oscar de La Hoya Charter High School
Thanksgiving has always been a tradition that my family looks forward to. With my family as big as it is, our Thanksgiving dinner usually includes four generations of my family.
The women in my family will go to any lengths to make sure every Thanksgiving dinner is a success. As I get older I know I will follow the tradition and be more involved in preparing the holiday meal.
Dulce Morales, 17, Bravo Medical Magnet High School
As a vegetarian, I look forward to a family gathering rather than the food on Thanksgiving. During the day, my Mom prepares the turkey using a Mexican recipe, while I help with the vegetarian food: cucumber salad, sweet carrot salad, pink mashed potatoes, and fried tofu.
Having a vegetarian lifestyle in a Hispanic family is challenging because most meals contain meat. Thanksgiving is not an exception, and my family tries to get me to take a bit from the turkey.
My meal might not have the traditional component, but it is still special to me.
Yesenia Thomson, 15, Mendez High School for College and Career Preparation.
Thanksgiving is a joyous day for many Americans, a day to truly think about and appreciate what you have, who you have, and why they are important. But, for me, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday.
My mother is Canadian. In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated the second Monday of October. Though she’s been in the United States nearly 30 years, my mother still celebrates Thanksgiving the same day as her relatives, so that’s when we celebrate. The week of American Thanksgiving for me is a week to catch up on work, sleep in and spend time with friends.
Alejandra Valdez, 17, Media Arts Charter High School
It’s that time of the year when we all give thanks for the wonderful events and people that we have shared this past year with. This Thanksgiving will be another day when my entire family and I get together and enjoy each other’s company along with prayer and a traditional meal.
When evening arrives, my family and I begin loading the truck with all the food we will be taking to my uncle’s place in East LA. Everyone brings something to contribute to the meal. We end up with two turkeys each year and an endless amount of side dishes. After we eat we spend time together and usually end the night with karaoke.
Yazmin Nunez, 17, Roosevelt High School
Thanksgiving for me is a day filled with wonderful aromas of hard work and days of preparation to prepare all the food that brings our families together at the table to give thanks.
The work starts days before I go to my aunt’s house to help her with the food preparation. I have been helping her since I was a little girl and every year I do a little more. This year I hope to learn how to prepare all of the side dishes that accompany the turkey and ham on the table.
Thanksgiving for me is more than just eating with my family; it’s being able to learn so that one day I will be able to prepare the whole meal.
Lesly Juarez, 17, Roosevelt High School
Thanksgiving dinners in our house are always loud, and filled with the sound of people talking, laughing and music in the background. It is the one time in the year where we all get together at the same time and place. Before eating dinner, my entire family gathers around the table, and prays for everything we are thankful for this year.
In the past, my family has approached thanksgiving dinner with a comedic twist. I remember one year, my aunt fooled everyone as she walked into the house and dropped the tray with the turkey on it. There was a moment of shock and silence. Then we all laughed because we realized the turkey she dropped was a plastic one. The real turkey was in the oven.
This year, our thanksgiving dinner will take on a different twist, and it will be combined with a baby shower for my godmother’s daughter.
Imelda Mercado, 15, Roosevelt High School
Thanksgiving in my home is the same year after year. My grandmother cooks and cleans for hours, despite my mother’s attempts at having her sit down and relax with the rest of the family. My mother helps her cook at times but my grandmother does most of the work.
After calling everyone to eat, serving the food and making sure everyone is satisfied, my grandmother finally enjoys a well-deserved rest– one of the few times I ever see my grandmother sitting down.
Melissa Martinez, 17, Roosevelt High School
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year because of the food, the family, and the time of reflection.
Last year I was excited because I made the mashed potatoes. I went online, to the Food Network website, and prepared my first batch of mashed potatoes. It came out pretty good for my first try.
On Thanksgiving Day we have a dinner at a family friend’s house. There are about five families that meet. We go around the room, give thanks, and pray. Then the teenagers sit together and eat and talk. And it goes the same for the adults and younger children. I love these kinds of get-togethers. I feel grateful, comfortable, and loved