Growing up, Thanksgiving always had an exotic flavor to me — a gringo eccentricity talked about in that odd, nowhere-Spanish accent they used on a the dubbed enlatados on Venevisión.
The whole concept of Acción de Gracia was just foreign through and through: the notion of a family solemnly gathering and going around a dinner table earnestly listing off their reasons for being thankful was just so incongruous from the point of view of a typical, boisterous, everyone-speaking-at-the-same-time Venezuelan family.
Whatever we were, we weren’t that.
The odd phrase they used to describe it in on TV made it seem all the more exotic. There’s an ecclesiastical ring about Acción de Gracia as a phrase that’s missing from ‘Thanksgiving’. But it was confusing: at catholic school they taught us gracia was a gift freely bestowed by a benevolent God. Giving it is certainly not something people should be able to freelance.
I couldn’t piece it together. As a holiday, Graciagiving struck me as a theologically suspect, if not outright pagan.
These days, I think I had it all wrong: Acción de Gracia is the rare translation that’s somehow better than the original. It gets at the nub of it, at the the act of seeking grace by saying gracias. Maybe the priests were wrong. Maybe grace is not gratuitous. Maybe it can be only be freely received when we make a purposeful act of giving it.
Which is why we’re taking today to say Thank You, as we launch a special commemoration of Caracas Chronicles’s Fifteenth Year Anniversary.
Ever since we launched, all the way back in 2002, Caracas Chronicles has been powered by an amazing constellation of readers, writers, commenters, illustrators, tweeters, co-conspirators and friends, and we couldn’t have done any of it without you.
Over the next two weeks, we’ll be looking back on those fifteen years: Posts from a range of guest authors, tidbits from the archives —lovingly curated by our stellar Editorial Assistant, Mariví Coello, and our killer addition to the Editorial team, Victor Drax— commemorative graphics by our ridiculously talented designer, Mario Dávila; an amazing project by la gran Naky, and tons of fun goodies and surprises along the way.
We know it’s not a time to celebrate, but we think it is a time to think back, reflect, relive and —especially— to give thanks.
On behalf of Emiliana, Raúl, and myself,
¡Graacias!Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.