“Let’s go do wishes,” my kids clacked about on repeat, asking for monedas to go make wishes at the fountain by Gordito’s Fresh Mex in Cabarete yesterday. It was our last lunch of the weekend before heading back to Santo Domingo but for us it was also possibly the last time at Gordito’s, or the last time in Cabarete for that matter. The movie Inside Out keeps coming to mind as I try to imagine just how many memories this year will be marked by “Sadness.” But this memory, Thanksgiving Weekend in Cabarete, is the first and the biggest, and in its aftermath I can’t help but think about Thanksgiving today and Thanksgiving 6 years ago.
6 years ago was our first Thanksgiving abroad and, in my 31 years up until that point, I had never – not once – been anywhere but with my family for Thanksgiving. When I got an email from my mom that morning, telling me how she would miss me and how it was “the first time, since 1980 that we would not be together for Thanksgiving” I thought I’d die. I was on a Caribbean island, on a sunny beach in Cabarete with my husband and 6 week old baby but my heart was cloudy as hell. Boy was change hard.
Watch our first Thanksgiving. Seems like a lifetime ago that our Baby Rafa was so small and our pups were so… limber?
But life is a funny, funny trickster.
How sad I was to be in Cabarete for Thanksgiving then, thinking that change was hard. And how sad I was to be in Cabarete for Thanksgiving today time, still thinking that change was hard… but for the very opposite reason.
This holiday – in this place – has become our family’s Thanksgiving, the place the Kaufman Legra family’s Thanksgiving was born. This is where our first Thanksgiving as a married couple was spent and where our first Thanksgiving as a family was had. More than that, Thanksgiving in Cabarete will be what our kids think of when they think of Thanksgiving. Sitting around a 100 person potluck dinner with sand on our feet and salt water air in our hair is as much a part of our makeup as a family as bedtime stories. It is a core memory. And like we learn from Inside Out, sometimes our happiest memories start from a place of sadness. Sometimes joy could only be bright and shiny because sadness was there first.
Standing with my kids making wishes with 1 cent pesos, I thought about what wish I would ask from the fountain. Sometimes I throw wishes away without thinking about them completely… but not this time. This one mattered to me.
May we be as happy at this time next year, as we are right now.
I know that wish doesn’t seem big enough (only a year from now?) but it seemed like the exact size wish I could hope for this Thanksgiving. When Husband and I shared a cry on our terrace outside Le Reef, I realized our lives have come full circle. We would miss this place as much as we had missed NJ our first year away from home and now this was home. Like 6 years ago, I know good things are coming, but that doesn’t make it any easier to leave these good things behind.