The broom vendor just walked down our street, with a heavy clutch of handmade brooms and feather dusters flung over his shoulder. He calls out in a low gravelly voice: escobas, plumeros. Street vendors are a disappearing lot. Occasionally, I still hear the whistle of the knife sharpener. I once stopped him with the idea of sharpening all the carving knives and scissors in the house. He wanted a fortune! When he heard my accent, he must have thought, Ah-ha, here’s a wealthy foreigner. It’s been years since I've seen the bread man on his tricycle. I wonder if families have stopped buying fresh bread every morning.
Two days ago was Thanksgiving. Not a holiday here and it means nothing to my Chilean family. Maybe it’s my fault for not having installed a family tradition early on, but it’s difficult when it’s a work and a school day, and summer is almost upon us. No yellow and orange fall leaves, no roaring fireplaces, no nippy air. I invited my son who lives here for lunch, but he was having a busy week at work. I sent both boys email greetings. The one in New York responded. Years ago, a group of American families would get together for a picnic on the following weekend. But, as our families grew, it became difficult to accommodate everyone. Thanksgiving is mainly just a nostalgic memory for me now.
Traditions are important, the mortar that holds a culture together and makes it unique. But, I’ve made my life in another land and must know when to let go. I can’t revive my family Thanksgivings of the past. All those who sat around our table when I was young are gone. The memories remain but they will not continue on with my sons. I accept that fact.
Everything in life is always evolving, changing. That’s the nature of it. That’s why I try to pay attention – to the passing broom man, the intense purple of the blooms on our jacaranda tree, the voluminous billowing clouds over the cordillera, the expression on the face of the young bride whose wedding we attended today. And each day I give thanks for it all.