Many Americans today, no less than in times past, are immigrants—or children of immigrants—who live between the culture of their homeland and the culture of their new home to which they are, sooner or later, assimilated. This story, written in 2004 by Los Angeles-born Cuban American novelist and journalist Ana Menéndez (b. 1970) shows the way a Cuban immigrant family dealt with this cultural “doubleness” around the peculiarly American holiday of Thanksgiving. The daughter of Cuban exiles, Menéndez has written four books of fiction, earning a Pushcart Prize, and has worked as a columnist for the Miami Herald.
What was the original attitude of the Menéndez family toward Thanksgiving? Why did they strive to transform the holiday and give it a Cuban flavor? How successful was this effort at transformation? What happened over the years to this family and its Thanksgiving traditions—and was it inevitable? What do you make of the author’s prayer at the last Thanksgiving she recounts? Has the holiday served to make these immigrants more American? More grateful?