Sunday, November 22, 2009


  This week we head down to Southern California to join my entire family (minus the incomparable Zilia and her pensive mother Vera) for The Feast.  It is the first Thanksgiving in our family that Ric Estrada won't be on the planet earth.  He is probably on some other planet breaking bread and inviting practical strangers to his table.  I think my sister Aleli and I should play the Jingle Bells duet in his honor.  He always cajoled us into playing it on the grand piano for whatever company was over for the pilgrim's celebration.  And there was always A LOT of company. 

 I remember one year our entire living room on Venado Avenue had long tables from the church set up and the house was full of people from the Spanish branch (at church), family friends, and people who had nowhere else to go. I still associate this holiday with the excitement of sheer numbers. 

I have another memory (that noone else can verify) that involves my dad poking his head into the dining room with great enthusiasm (think muppets) and asking "Did you try the delicious yams?" Except he didn't say yams. He said jams because he was excited and his accent took over.  So it sounded like "Deedjou tdy the deleeshus shjams?" And I remember Aleli and I laughing uncontrollably about that and saying it over and over again for fun.  I still say it out of the blue sometimes.  But enthusiasm for yams was perfectly in keeping with his outlook on things although expressing it with an accent was certainly not. 

I remember the year that my parents funded a Thanksgiving in North Carolina.  I had just given birth to Mymy and they flew everyone out from the west to our apartment where we also set up long tables in the living room to seat the entire clan (minus Zilia that time too.)  All of a sudden Chapel Hill became my real home because my brothers and sisters and parents and all the little cousins were there and I took ownership of the place.  We had a family devotional in my blue living room.  Everyone had prepared something to share about gratitude. A poem, a thought, a song.  And we all sang together too.  It was wonderful.  I can't remember what my dad said but he is there in my memory next to my mom sitting to my left, close to the front door, smiling at what everyone had to offer and making breathy "wow" and "wah" noises when he was overcome with emotion.  Just so absolutely pleased to be there. 

Estrada Family Thanksgiving 2002. At the UNC Old Well.

Jazz Hands.

I wonder if he knows how much he gave to our family. The love of people, conversation, absurdities, music, movies, dancing, and hearing our own voices.  I know I can expect a lot of this on Thursday when we all get together. So even though he won't be there with us...he will be there.


  1. i love reading about such lovely memories. they are the best.
    what an appropriate time to get together with your family. I can't wait to hear all about it.

  2. Rebekah, thank you so much for sharing this! I only briefly met your father, and all that I know of him is from the interview on Radio West that you directed me to, and your writing. He is so ALIVE in your writing and memories. Thank you!

  3. This is lovely, Bekah, thank you for remembering Ric on Thanksgiving.

  4. 2002 was such a fun Thanksgiving and I must say 2009 was right up there with it . . .only missing Ric. I had thought at one point of setting up a chair and place setting for him and then in the rush to get all the food to the table didn't remember it. I've since thought, "No need." He was there in all your faces and interactions. He was so there.