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For Thanksgiving we were invited to meet my son's girlfriend's family, something I'd been looking forward to since they've been together almost three years. I did meet her sister once but have heard many stories about her biological father, her stepfather, her mother, her older and younger brothers and her grandparents. The grandparents fled from Fascist Spain then escaped from Castro in Cuba, coming to America. There are also some connections to Colombia, Peru, Puerto Rico, and possibly the Aztecs.


Slightly nervous, I bought some flowers last minute: magenta carnations, babies' breath, and variegated white carnations with more magenta edging which I arranged in a vase, wrapped with clear yellow cellophane from Easter, stuck a cardboard and paper turkey on top. (Have worked in a florist plus possess quite the collection of odd holiday decorations.) I also brought a pumpkin spice candle and a bottle of sparking apple cider because I'd heard they don't drink much alcohol.


Beautiful but cold day, we headed off at 4pm for a 5pm dinner. I was given the following cautions: no swearing and no praying and no racist jokes. The last one is NOT something I actually DO, but amongst ourselves we compare and contrast Things Her People Do and Things Crazy White People Do, so it was a somewhat valid point. I promised to be on my best behavior, my plan being to talk mostly with the younger brother who is 11. My son said the stepfather would probably talk with us the most. The girlfriend said her mother was concerned because she doesn't speak English well or understand "big words" adding, "but she does."


Arriving early was smart as we got a tour of the house, had time to chat, laugh, establish some rapport. The mother asked if her daughter was teaching us any Spanish. Her sister shot out, "She's gotta learn it first!" I answered, "She sings in Spanish in the shower and while cooking." This was not good enough for the mother. She sat near me at one point and said, "Ask for a knife, in Spanish. Say dame un cuchillo." Which to my gringa ears, sounded like damn but I repeated it twice and she was delighted.


Much later, when I was processing the WHOLE event which involved more people than planned, a very cute baby, two indoor shrines to the Virgin Mary, one in an alcove that also featured the stepfather's recently deceased mother's photographs at different ages, plus many foods I had never eaten but tried; I thought of all the phrases she could have picked, why that one? Of course, I will use it at the drop of un cuchillo plus plan to learn a few more on my own to impress the mother when we invite them here at Christmas.


IN

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