Answer: THANKSGIVING AT REFUGE RANCH!
You may never have considered this before, but Thanksgiving is a strictly American (as in U.S.A., Mexico is in America too! :-) holiday! Thanksgiving takes us back to the very roots, the actual reason for the creation of the United States of America - the religious freedom to publicly worship and serve the One and Only Almighty God. Now, I like turkeys and all, but does it occur to the majority of the public that, despite being a delicious animal, having a very unique sound and a somewhat interesting appearance, they really do not deserve an entire holiday dedicated to them? That maybe there is another reason for Thanksgiving...aka giving thanks?
Thanksgiving was always been one of my favorite celebrations growing up so, despite the fact that it is not a Mexican holiday, I'm the Mom...so we celebrate Thanksgiving in the Zaragoza household and at Refuge Ranch!
I remember one particular tradition growing up at my home church in Toledo, OH, where my father continues to pastor today. Near Thanksgiving the church would make available simple thank you cards to the congregation and encourage us to take several, write thank you notes to other church members and then give them to that individual at the Thanksgiving service on Thanksgiving morning. Remembering how meaningful that was to me, I took that idea and adapted it to our family. I printed up thank you cards the size of a business card (to save paper:-). On one side the card read: "Gracias a Dios y gracias a....", "Thanks to God and thanks to....here went a different name covering our entire family and staff" and the other side was blank in order for the giver to write his or her own message. So, since last week, at every meal, our entire family would write on several of those cards in order to have them ready by yesterday! (Do the math...there are 20 of us in the Zaragoza family and currently 12 individuals between the staff and their families!)
Yesterday, after our Thanksgiving meal, we handed out the packets of thank you cards to each recipient. Wow! The power of a "thank you"! The dining room/warehouse became pretty quiet (hard to do with over 30 people present) as each individual read their notes, complete with beautiful personal notes for each of us from Lucy and even Joanna! Seven year old Caleb came up to me, wrapped his arms around my neck and mumbled through his tears into my neck: "The card that most impacted me was Diana's." Very little can touch a mother's heart more than watching one child positively impact one of their siblings! Victor, tough, in-control, former-gang-member turned Dad-in-bulk-quantities, even had to do his best to fight back the tears reading all the ways in which his children are thankful for him. Five-year-old Ana literally closed her little fist around her envelope and Lucy's note and did not let go of them for hours! I do believe we have just started another Zaragoza Family Tradition!
We decided to rival the attendance of the first Thanksgiving feast: