Holidays

This Thanksgiving, I'm Not Leaving The Table

Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

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My favorite spot to eat dinner as a kid was always on the couch. I used to follow my dad there, and my brother and sister did the same. It was one of those acts that used to bother my mom when we were growing up. She always used to mention how important it was to eat as a family and to communicate with one another. At the time, I brushed it off as something that didn’t mean much to me. Now at 25, family relationships are everything. I am fortunate enough to have a close bond with my family, and with the pandemic not allowing us to see each other often, we were all able to reflect on our shared moments together and understand the value of maintaining traditions. 

Our favorite time of the year is Thanksgiving. It is a meaningful holiday for my family because now that we’re older, it’s one of the only times of the year where we all come together. Ever since I could remember, as the rest of the country was wrapping up their dinners, my family would be on our way to my Aunt Zenovia’s house in the Bronx at 9 p.m. because that’s when all the food would be ready. After eating double plates of our traditional Dominican dishes, none of us ever left the dinner table. As the night went on, the small talk and catching up turned into belly laughs, tears, spilled secrets, and a much-needed therapy session. Before we knew it, it’s past midnight, and instead of calling a cab home, we served ourselves leftovers and kept the conversation going. It’s what I look forward to the most each year.

Our conversations around the table each Thanksgiving mean so much more to us than we even realize. We get to tell the stories we’ve been waiting to share with each other, reminisce about our childhood, announce pregnancies, proposals, plan vacations, and get to know each other on a deeper level and be vulnerable, with no judgment. There were some years when our table conversations would change in tone. In the harder years, like the year we lost our grandfather, more tears than laughter were shared that night, and the hugs from our aunt and cousins felt a bit tighter — and lasted a bit longer. 

The harder years taught us that we can’t wait for one day out of the year to experience cherished moments together as we do on Thanksgiving. During COVID-19, we realized how important family is, and how making time to see and communicate with each other should be a priority throughout the year. Ironically, the pandemic has made us closer in the sense that we can’t imagine living in moments where we can’t embrace each other in person, fill up laughter and joy in the same room, or have dinner together. This year, our time spent together will come more often, and our traditions around the table will live on. 


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