Thanksgiving 2014: A Mexican from Mexico’s Thanksgiving

If you have been following my blog for some time now, and In case you didn’t notice, I have been on a “let’s re-define and achieve success” kick lately. This kick is partly due to a focus on studying and understanding procrastination, productivity, success, and setting goals that work for you instead of against you.

Seeing as Thanksgiving 2014 is right around the corner (ok, more like tomorrow), I thought it fitting to explore the subject of gratitude and its direct relationship to success.

But alas, we have a problem… I have never celebrated Thanksgiving in the traditional American sense.

You see, unless you have read my about page, I don’t think you understand where I’m coming from. Literally speaking: where I am from.

Growing up in Mexico

Although I was born in the good ‘ol U.S. of A, I was actually raised in Mexico up until I was 15 years of age.  Thus, my formative years as a child were spent watching my mother watch Novelas (Mexican soap operas) in the local TV stations TV Azteca or Televisa, watching my family go crazy over futbol (otherwise known as soccer), and breaking piñatas at birthday parties.

SO… when friends and acquaintances my age speak of American pop culture from the ‘80s and 90’s, most of the time I have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.  I simply had a different experience growing up.

When Audrey Hepburn was the rage in the US, Maria Felix was her equivalent in Mexico.  If my American friends grew up watching Home Improvement or Family Matters, I was watching Don Francisco or El Chavo del 8 on Saturday nights with my family.

… And let’s not forget getting spanked with a chancla.

My experience growing up was not limited to experiencing pop culture with a Mexican flare, but it also included the Mexican perspective of holidays.

For example, Halloween was kind of a weird holiday not many wanted to partake in because Mexican culture saw it as a devil-worshipping sort of holiday… and god forbid good Catholics celebrate devil-worshipping holidays—yet children of all ages parade down the streets of Mexico in their Halloween costumes every single year.

Christmas was more or less celebrated across the board, but mostly because Jesus was born on that date, not because Santa Clause would squeeze down our non-existent chimneys to deliver gifts.  I understand that the birth of Jesus Christ is mostly the reason why people celebrate Christmas in the U.S. too, but man, do advertisers milk the Santa Clause story for what it’s worth, or what?

Then there was Easter.  Growing up Catholic I had no idea what Easter is.  Don’t get me wrong, I was supposed to know, I just didn’t have a clue because we hardly ever stepped inside a church.  Fortunately for me, the American culture has done a grand job at making Easter more memorable for me by including pink rabbits and colored eggs into their celebrations.

Then there is Thanksgiving.  I had never even heard of this holiday until I moved to the US.  And even after all the time I have spent in the US I still call it Turkey Day—the day one eats lots of turkey and cranberries in honor of the day a bunch of pilgrims supposedly had dinner with the local native Indians.

Conspiracy theories aside, I love the concept of Thanksgiving. You gather with the people you esteem around a table full of food (namely turkey and cranberries), and you share the experience of gratitude, fulfillment, and nourishment with them.

…And then you go shopping and trample other people for the sake of cheap electronics.

How beautiful is that?

In all seriousness, a day that previously had no meaning for me because it didn’t exist in the holiday calendar has now become a reason to celebrate who I have become, another year of life, and the lessons I have picked up along the way.

So how does a Mexican girl raised in Mexico adjust to practicing gratitude on Thanksgiving 2014?

She finds reasons to be grateful.

EVERYBODY should be finding reasons to be grateful every. Single. Day.

On Success and Gratitude

Because it is so much easier to focus on the bad stuff, working out your gratitude muscle is a way to learn to re-focus your mind away from what is no longer serving you and into what is actually working for you. Remember, personal development and self-improvement is all about mindset.

If you want a surefire way to change your thoughts in order to change your world and become successful, gratitude is the best place to start.

To be honest with you, I am not exactly a pro at keeping a daily gratitude journal.  I must admit I don’t practice gratitude often enough.  But that is just it—I am too focused on how I don’t practice gratitude enough instead of appreciating when I do practice gratitude.

Think of gratitude as a way to re-focus in the present moment. Instead of always wanting more, more, more, MORE, or focusing on “never having or doing enough,” gratitude allows us to look at all that we have already accomplished or have, and appreciate and cherish it.

Gratitude creates space for mindfulness and satisfaction.

Conclusion

It’s been nearly 15 years since I’ve moved to the US.  My formative years as a young adult have now been spent watching my mother watch Novelas in Univision, people go crazy over the Super Bowl, and you can now find me playing beer pong or flip cup at parties (no more piñatas for me).

In the end, all I can say is that I am infinitely grateful for every single minute of my formative years as a child spent in Mexico, and even more so for every single minute of my formative years as a young adult in the U.S.

What are YOU grateful for?

Tweet this and tell me what you are grateful for: Today I am #grateful for….

 

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Thank you for reading and Happy Thanksgiving 2014 to you!

12 Comments

  1. Me encantó el video de la chancla. No fue así para mí. Mi mamá utilizó un cucharón de madera. Y le cena entre los indios y los peregrinos es un mito. El día de acción de gracias inició cuando George Washington lo declaró un día de fiesta para conmemorar el milagro que fue la constitución de EEUU.

  2. Zach, Having studied Spanish for a few years with a private teacher, I can barely understand most of what you wrote – although I still cannot speak Spanish.

    Victoria, As a first time visitor to your blog I found it most enjoyable to read about your perspective having grown up in a different culture. The U.S. was very different when I was growing up. Neighbors hung out together. We had block parties. We walked long distances and took buses and trains (in NYC) without our parents driving us anywhere. We returned to Queens, NY from university and fraternity parties after midnight on the subway – and there was very little crime that I can recall. We played softball in the middle of the street and there was very little traffic driving by. We built igloos in the huge snowbanks (we used to have very large snowstorms in New York) and we went ice skating on the pond and rode our sleds down the slopes at our local Goose Pond Park. some of us even rode down “Suicide Hill”.

    Life was very different than the way you see it now. But we always had a Santa Claus and Halloween was a time for costumes and candy and parties.

    Warmly,

    Dr. Erica

    • Hello Dr. Erica, thank you for sharing your experiences growing up. I recently started thinking about generational differences and my parents speak of a very different Mexico from the one I grew up in. Hopefully we can re-build a world in which that lifestyle is a reality once again.

  3. I find that the origin of what Thanksgiving was meant for was good but along the way it got polluted by other things. Like you have said it is time to revive the real meaning and as we gather as families let it be a time for gratitude. More so let it be a daily practice for us all. Thank you for the share, I come from a background where we don’t have this holiday, but I find it a good opportunity to remember gratitude, if we have forgotten.

    • Siphosith, you are absolutely right… part of the reason we never celebrated thanksgiving in my family is precisely because we wanted to keep a daily tradition of being thankful rather than a once a year meal. Regardless, the concept is beautiful.

  4. It’s so easy to get lost in all the hoopla of the holidays here in the U.S.! I can really appreciate your take on it.

    For me, Thanksgiving used to be one of the few remaining “sacred” holidays, but that seems to be going out the window now. I am still in shock with how some stores are now open on Thanksgiving with pre-Black Friday deals. Unfortunately, my teens don’t bat an eyelash at this fact. Now when they think of Thanksgiving, they equate it with shopping!

    We really need to get back to putting the focus on giving thanks and expressing our gratitude.

    • Hello Karen, thank you so much for your comment. I agree… advertisers are just pushing consumerism like there is no tomorrow… I wonder if it is because people are not as focused on “buying things” as they are in “buying experiences”. I recently heard there was research saying that the generation that is graduating high school this year and the kids younger than them are actually more focused on experiences than they are in things. Hope in humanity restored 🙂

  5. Happy Thanksgiving, I grew up in the UK where there was no Thanksgiving and we got two weeks vacation from school for Easter. I left ENgland 10 years ago and there was no concept of Black Friday, as there was no Thanksgiving. Now… Black Friday has been imported and the retailers just like in the US are going wild with deals.

    • Happy thanksgiving to you too Andy! Thank you for your comment. That’s kind of funky that Black Friday would be imported without Thanksgiving… but the truth is that both events are kind of paradoxical anyways…

  6. Hi Victoria, I’m based in the UK, and I don’t get the pop-culture references either. It seems though we’ve imported Black Friday, but not thanksgiving from the US this year. I can’t wait to see what next year brings for us 🙂

    • Hello Sarah, I have been living in the US for nearly 15 years now, so I am not familiar with current Mexican pop culture.. but I wouldn’t doubt we have imported “Viernes Negro” too. Thanks for the comment!

  7. So interesting to see how similar our formative years have been. It is probably why we communicate really well. Fun article, thanks so much 🙂

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