Long lines that seem to go on forever. Food shortages at nearly every local supermarket. Screaming matches. Crying. No, we're not talking about Black Friday: this is Sanksgibbing at your mom's house, a holiday affair all your tios, primos, and distant relatives come together for despite any apparent reason other than to eat food and talk about Cuba.
We're not really sure why Cubans get together to celebrate the Pilgrims coming to America, but since it's Sanksgibbing, and we're thankful that Fidel is practically dead, we're in the giving mood. Surviving Cuban Sanksgibbing is tough, but not impossible. After years of practice and studying what went wrong, we have gotten the hang of making it through the weekend unscathed and relay to you our ultimate survival guide.
Begin fasting immediately.
When you were a kid, you used to dream about Thanksgiving: the precursor holiday to Christmas that all your gringo friends freaked out over because of the supposed feast that came along with it. You were confused, because nearly every minor celebration at your house – every single birthday, your dad buying a new car, your grandma quitting smoking – was celebrated with shitloads of food. But Sanksgibbing seems to be even worse, because everyone's trying to mash it up with all the customs – the only way out (besides being rolled) is to plan in advance: stop eating. Literally. For days.
Don't expect any mac 'n' cheese.
Unlike the food at your school Thanksgiving, where everyone brought food that looked and tasted like fall, your parents were a little less ignorant about the actual state of the climate. Sure your tia Milady, who was married to a guy from Michigan sometimes sprung for some of the traditional items like a green bean casserole or the occasional yam. Your mom always made a turkey — even though it was bathed in mojo, and served alongside some roasted pork — it was still pretty festive. But mostly, Sanksgibbing for you was an endless parade of the usual suspects: arroz con frijoles, platanitos maduros, and a steaming plate of garlic yuca.
Forget the costume.
You were perplexed when everyone came to school wearing a costume, since you were certain that Halloween was like, two weeks ago, and apparently everyone had chosen to be either Pocahontas or a virgin. But you decided to impress all your family members with how much you knew about America, so you donned some feathers and moccasins and a flap for your private parts. You had absolutely no idea that your great-great-grandfather had beef with the Siboney, but you learned real quick that year that dressing up for Sanksgibbing was frowned upon at your house.
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Avoid the landmines.
This is not your first rodeo, and you know what tends to happen after everyone has had a few too many Cuba libres. Out of the corner of your eye you saw it brewing: one of your uncles said something about his trip to Cuba last year, and your grandfather started giving him the look. Suddenly, everyone gets involved, and all you hear is a persistent wave of screaming. Situations like these must be avoided if you're to make it through a Cuban Sanksgibbing — keep it light or turn up the music and drown out the volume of your mother's tears.
The only thing worse than helping to prepare Sanksgibbing is cleaning it up afterward. Because Cuban moms are pretty much world champion naggers, the only way to avoid a long night of ruining your manicure is by pulling a disappearing act. Like when you Irish goodbye on your friends at a bar, back away slowly from the table just as everyone else is moving from the dining room table to the domino table.
Don't be greedy.
After a night spent being picked on, poked, and prodded by your mom and grandma, who lodged a comment about your weight with every single bite you ate, you should know better than to be greedy. Under no circumstances are you to join them for Black Friday shopping, a force with the power to warp the women in your family into sociopath vultures devoid of humanity. Not only will they fight to the death for a discounted cazuela, they'll drag you into every store and force you to try stuff on, which will quickly reveal that you've been lying about being a size six in an effort to get them off your back.
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