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La Jerga Mexico
Giving Thanks by Steve Kelso
As us ex-pats once again hunch over the turkey, giblet gravy dripping from our collective cheeks and chins, let us not forget the spirit behind this special day - Giving thanks. When my Mexican friends ask me the meaning, significance or origen of this holiday, this is what I say. The European Pilgrims (whites) landed at Plymouth Rock and were welcomed by the indigenous Americans (redskins). The Pilgrims introduced new foods and helped with the technology of the day. The Indians helped tending the crops and were excellent hunting and fishing guides. When the fall crop came in both groups decided to share some of the harvest in a big fiesta. Both groups were thankful for the help given by the other. After the big party there was square dancing and liquor drinking and all was right with the world. It was so much fun it became a tradition.

As years passed more and more Pilgrims arrived by the boatloads - literally. It became apparent that at least 13 colonies needed to be set aside for Pilgrims and their friends - Only. Meanwhile the Indians are like, “Whoa!”, “What the ?!”, and “Hey, we wuz here 1st!”. The Pilgrims then produced a fancy legal document called a treaty. It came in it´s own padded folder. The Indians were flabbergasted when a Pilgrim opened the folder. It had a shiny gold seal with profiled drawings of other white men. Since the document was in the King´s English and written by an attorney, the Pilgrims translated the document by using charades, hand signals and doing a jig all the while smiling broadly with the conspiratorial winks thrown in. By now the Indian Chief was numb by sensory overload and when he signed the document a band struck up a tune while a big apple cart was wheeled out. The cart was piled high with fruits, vegetables, nuts and firewater. As it turned out, according to the treaty’s wording, the apple cart and it´s contents were payment in full for the 13 colonies.

ThanksgivingIn addition to the Pilgrims, boatloads of people began arriving from Africa (blacks). From the indians point of view, it appeared the African people had also entered into some type of treaty with the Pilgrims.When a redskin wished to address a white person, more and more often they had to get an okay from the black man. Color was everything. Long before the Pilgrims broke the first of many treaties, the fall harvest fiesta had evolved into a Pilgrim-only affair. Just after the first broken treaty the Indian Wars began and would continue for the next several hundred years. To this very day the Thanksgiving Holiday is continued by the decendants of that first boatful of Pilgrims. Now you know why the vast indian reservations scattered throughout the western states are going to be quiet this Thanksgiving. To them it´s just another weekday with not much giving or thanking going on. Meanwhile, many of us prefer to forget about the hundreds of years of war and extermination and focus on those first years when all was right with the world and there was plenty of everything for everybody, provided of course you were a Pilgrim.

Excuse my straying off topic which is - giving thanks. Last week I asked many of you what you are thankful for this year. There were a surprising amount of cynical responses but some very noble ones also. It was touching hearing of your experiences and the variety of relevations this question produced. They were much better than the list I prepared. I made a list of 10 things to be thankful for this year. I prepared my list before the interviews began so as not to influence my own list or get cross contaminated or whatever you call it. It is a fun exercise and I urge you to do it. You will get in touch with your feelings.

So here is my list of top 10 things to be thankful for in 2004:
10) Hot water - If hot showers didn´t exist I would just do without. Can you imagine the odor?! I mean it. I hate cold showers.
9) The use of all my fingers and toes - As opposed to what was going on with them before.
8) The 2004 Presidential Election - It was just like an old-timey election where the citizens did all the voting. The use of substitute voters wearing black robes and voting in secret chambers was somehow avoided.
7) Being single - It allows a guy the luxury of time. Time to clean out the attic, read 15th century Italian poetry and time to really relax. Only a single person is assured of not being one day closer to disappointment, heartbreak and despair.
6) Dr. Salvador Quiroz, Yuka Oshima and Tom Frazee - in 2003 these three people banded together and made decisions that saved my life. Technically, this is from T-Day 2003 but I am still giving thanks.
5) Booze
4) A roof over my head - There is an alternative, you know?
3) Having known Wendi Frahm - Right or wrong she was always great! I miss her still.
2) Winning the weekly football pool at Restaurant La Vida - Hey! 330 pesos is nothing to sneeze at nowadays!
1) YOU!!! - I always save the best for last! Since I know personally all six of you who read this column I have to tell you that I appreciate your support, I value our friendship and I wish you a great Thanksgiving and hope you are able to spend it with someone you love, or at least know.

Now a really keen thing to do is go and make your own top ten list. You may surprise yourself! Honestly, I floored myself making my list. How often does that happen? Give some thanks!

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