A Family of Friends

Life Story Club Contributor

My family was third generation Argentinian. They were an extended family, speaking Spanish. Some, the older generation, spoke Yiddish, not the younger people. It was wonderfully integrated. My father was one of twelve, and six married Christians, six married Jews. I grew up with a very inter-religious and cultural situation. And for that, I’m very grateful for. My cousins and I were very different.

For me, the big difference was that I was here, in a new country alone. I was with my husband but I didn’t have family here. And we spoke English, not Spanish. And we created families through friends. My children grew up without blood relatives but with several families that behaved as real families. We were all together. But I’m very different. Very, very different. It would take me hours to talk about that. My beliefs, my general attitudes, but the simple fact that creating a family that was basically nuclear. We didn’t have blood relatives here. It was very different but I think we were very successful about creating families, but what can I tell you? It’s not the same thing.

It’s very funny, because I never thought of myself as being an immigrant. I came here in a very comfortable position. I came here as a tourist and decided to say. All I said was, “I want a green card,” and they said, “Here.” I said, “I want to be a citizen,” and they said, “Please, of course.” We were not struggling or illegal. It was a different world. I am literally an immigrant, if you want to call it that. When I think of immigrants I feel very lucky because I never had that experience. I feel tremendous compassion for struggling immigrants.

My family was third generation Argentinian. They were an extended family, speaking Spanish. Some, the older generation, spoke Yiddish, not the younger people. It was wonderfully integrated...

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Thanksgiving

Life Story Club Contributor

I arrived in New York sixty years ago with the intention of being here for six months and that’s sixty years ago. By choice, I decided to stay. I was born and grew up in Argentina, where the word “Thanksgiving” or the day didn’t exist. When I arrived in New York, one of the first things that happened is I was invited to a Thanksgiving with my friends, and I absolutely fell in love with it. Until my children were born, I kept being invited to friends’ houses. And when my children reached the age of about 2-3, I decided I was going to celebrate Thanksgiving because I thought it was just about the most beautiful celebration that anyone could do.

I liked that it wasn’t business-like. It wasn’t about presents. I started to be the person who produced Thanksgiving and I started to invite friends with children. Something interesting happened when my sons went away to college. When they would come home for the holidays, so they would come home for Thanksgiving. Some of their friends lived very far away and couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving because the holiday at college was only for a few days. So I started to invite their friends, the college friends who couldn’t go home. At that time I had a big house so I had a house full of young people and it was wonderful. It was really wonderful.

For many, many years we did that, and then my sons left New York to live somewhere else, and that’s when I called myself the orphan because people invited me for their Thanksgiving. A friend of mine used to say that he had Christmas for Jews and orphans, and I was the orphan for Thanksgiving. You know what I mean.

Then a group of friends who are all orphans began to get together and celebrate Thanksgiving. People who didn’t have their close nuclear family here. That persisted until a couple of years ago when everybody in my generation was either dead or dying.

I’m not very mobile. I rarely go places, so I decided that Thanksgiving is every day. I began to get more and more firm in my commitment to gratitude, so the last two years, Thanksgiving was a quiet day at home but the feeling and tradition is there for me every day. I adopted it. Thanksgiving was not something I grew up with. It is a tradition that started sixty years ago.

We used to go around the table in my home. The way I organized it, even when they were very little, we would go around the table and everybody would say what they were grateful for. What Thanksgiving meant to each one of us.

I arrived in New York sixty years ago with the intention of being here for six months and that’s sixty years ago. By choice, I decided to stay. I was born and grew up in Argentina, where t...

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