CANNED yams?

Relationship: Im/migrant
Fresh, caramelized, yellow sweet potatoes with rosemary.
Fresh, caramelized, yellow sweet potatoes with rosemary.

I learned about CELEBRATING Thanksgiving on my first November here. On the Wednesday before THE DAY, everyone at work received a box with a frozen turkey and several boxes and cans. I knew what a turkey was. The other stuff,  canned cranberry sauce, canned yams (CANNED yams? cornbread MIX?), boxed stuffing...I hadn't the faintest idea of what to do with most of it. We decided that the americanos ate weird stuff, and we wanted no part of it. The car ride my new husband and I took on that first Thanksgiving afternoon, while the turkey was in the oven, was a melancholic one. We had no family here. My eyes welled with tears, and my stomach hurt. Houses were brightly lit. We could see festive tables through their windows. 

My husband was twenty six. I, twenty-two.  I decided, right there and then, that we needed to adopt American traditions. The next year, in '66, I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner. Most of the people who sat at our table have since moved away, from our lives or from the country, and others have passed away. Some years I cooked, and other times our extended families did. We were never alone after that first Thanksgiving. And I NEVER served ANYTHING from a can. I use fresh sweet potatoes, not yams, and I do not stuff the turkey. I use cooking juices, not gravy. And I think that mixes are great inventions for baking. Sometimes, I make matzo balls soup. May your Thanksgiving be safe, loving, and warm. 

Place(s): North Hollywood, CA

– Graciela Kaplan Aranovich

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant