Happy Thanksgiving

I don’t really think of Thanksgiving as a holiday. Not a real one anyway. It’s like Halloween or Valentine’s Day, something you celebrate but don’t exactly know why. Something that happens but you can’t really explain. Something that doesn’t affect you one way or the other. As a Chicana, I have a weird relationship with Thanksgiving. It’s not really part of my history, but it is part of the history of the country I call mine. So, while I acknowledge and appreciate the horrors that founded this country and the irony of calling the day “Giving Thanks,” I do still celebrate it. And that’s more due to the party aspect of it than to the original idea of the holiday.

Thanksgiving is the one day a year when it’s mandatory to eat more than is socially acceptable. Food becomes the center stage, the star of the day. Families gather for a feast. And everyone tries to outdo everyone else when sitting to go through what’s on his/her plate.

My mother has made turkey on Thanksgiving every year except one. That year she spent the day — the entire week before and after, as a matter of fact — waiting around a hospital room in the Texas Valley. My grandfather had had a stroke and she was visiting him. I made dinner that year. And let me tell you, it’s a whole hell of a lot of work. Ever since then my sisters and I have made all the side dishes and desserts while my mother makes the turkey. We thought it was only fair.

A friend of mine says that her mother hates to make a turkey. She always ends up with a dry bird. Now she makes turkey tamales and that’s what they have every year. That’s not a bad compromise.

Before I go on and on and on with my rambling about who does what on this day, let me just wish all of you a happy holiday. Don’t eat too much, don’t spend all day watching sports, and don’t drink and drive. As long as you do that and try to stop yourself from killing your family you should be fine.

Hasta la próxima, gente!

Xena, Denial & Sexuality

I have been a fan of “Xena: Warrior Princess” since the beginning. I watched the character emerge as a spin-off of “Hercules”, and the show is currently one of my favorites. I like the humor, the way the show uses mythological themes to address current social situations and the characters themselves. I’d be lying if I said that the fact that the female roles on this show are predominantly strong and independent isn’t one of the reasons why I love it so much. It’s the main reason. I’m sick of watching shows where the weak-willed woman has to be rescued by the always-right male lead. And I’m sick of watching shows where women are only the girlfriend, the wife, the mother or the in-between character who really doesn’t have a personality at all. I’m sick of watching shows where women are only a pale and very distant image of what real women are like. And so I watch Xena.

One of the first things that I liked about this show was the intense friendship between Xena and Gabrielle. It was so refreshing to see a true female friendship on television that I was actually shocked by it. I mean, name the amount of shows out there where the amigas back each other up always, without letting their supposed female emotions and television’s image of women get in the way of the friendship. If there is one, let me know. I’d love to check it out.

I am aware of the subtext of the show. For those of you out there who don’t know what that means, it means the ambiguousness of the sexual and/or romantic relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. I’ve seen it for a while. I think it’s cool that the show is venturing to portray things that way. It doesn’t change my view of the show and it doesn’t change my comfort with the scenes. My sister, on the other hand, cannot say the same thing. When I dared to enlighten her to the opinion of many viewers that Xena and Gabrielle were romantically linked, she was outraged. When I told her that the writers of the show purposely write scenes with their audience in mind, she was appalled. According to her, people just want to see what they want to see even if it has no basis. And she hasn’t watched the show again.

I think it’s amusing to note her reaction. She thinks of herself as an open-minded, tolerant person. And here she is, refusing to even acknowledge that a show she was watching may have had some lesbian characters in it. And the worst part is that she’ll deny it to her dying day. Why hasn’t she watched the show? She’s been busy and it’s not really that good anyway. I’ll try to do my part and enlighten her, but it makes me sad to think that she’s just one of many out there, with prejudices and insecurities that come out in negative behavior and still unable to even admit why they’re behaving the way they are.

character sins

I am vain. I know I’m not supposed to be, it isn’t the cool thing to do, but it’s the truth. I touch up my roots with whatever color my hair happens to be this month. (By the way, this month it’s a medium brown that’s just a shade darker than my natural color.) My clothes have to be coordinated, not necessarily dressy, but definitely coordinated. I have been known to check out my appearance in a reflective surface to make sure I still look okay. I touch up my makeup during the day (on the days when I wear makeup).

Does this mean that I’m not really a Feminist? I’ve been told that several times, but I don’t believe that. Just because I indulge myself in a few superficial details that can’t take away from the bigger picture, can it? I am proud. I know all the religious reasons to avoid pride, something about tempting God or whatever, but I cannot help it.

My parents taught me that one of the few things that cannot be taken away from you is your pride. And in certain situations pride is the only thing that can help you get through the bad stuff. So I guess that means I am proud of my pride. I am arrogant. I know what my flaws are, what my sins against society are as a woman with brown skin, but I do not feel shame or sorrow or regret.

I refuse to change myself to adjust to others’ expectations of what I’m supposed to be, their opinions of what attitudes and activities would be best for others, how my selfishness in refusing to change hurts society as a whole or just their little niche of it — too bad! I am what I am, flawed and real, I know what my character sins are and I have no intention of changing.