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Edward Celaya, staff opinion writer at the Arizona Daily Star. May 30, 2019

The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but it hasn’t always been that way.

As a child in a large Mexican American family, Thanksgiving meant meeting up with my similarly-aged cousins and running around our Nana and Tata’s endlessly huge yard, with the added bonus of maybe getting to push one of my brothers or male cousins in the cold-for-Arizona-in-November pool.

At that stage in my life, Thanksgiving just meant being around family and having fun.

During my adolescence and teenage years, I looked forward to the chance to hang out with cousins, sure, but now our puberty-fueled tomfoolery had turned into sneaking beers instead of sharing snarky jokes.

While being around loved ones and mountains of food was great, looking forward to Christmas and how I could become less awkward around girls took precedence.

With a few more years, I began to appreciate and anticipate the smorgasbord that is Thanksgiving dinner with much more vigor. Dessert, capped by my Aunt Veronica’s sinful pumpkin pie cheesecake, was always the highlight.

Add in the fact that my nickname from childhood was “the human garbage disposal,” and you can probably understand just how much the holiday meant to me during my broke, should-have-been-in-college years.

Now, in my early 30s, with my wild years of drinking too much and eating myself into five-hour comas mostly behind me, I think I’ve figured out what Thanksgiving is really about. It’s cheesy and sort of corny: It’s my Aunt Bettina’s calabacitas.

Just kidding – but they are to die for.

It’s family. Or, more accurately, those that we love and who love us, regardless of their blood ties to us. The early, child-like joy I felt seeing my East Coast cousins was actually the closest, purest understanding of the holiday I’d had.

This Thanksgiving, however, is a little different. Since joining the staff here at the Daily Star nearly six months ago, everyone has gone out of their way to make me feel not just like a part of the team, but essential to our daily mission to report the news and get the truth out.

In particular, my editor Sarah Garrecht Gassen has been not just kind but indispensable in my understanding of how a newsroom – and the news – works in this beautiful desert mountain town. And not just for myself, but for every apprentice and intern, colleague and senior editor, reader and letter to the editor writer as well.

I know I’m lucky to have grown up with a kind, loving, supportive immediate and extended family. I’ve also been lucky to be accepted into another large, unruly but always caring cast of characters: the Arizona Daily Star.

This year, I, along with my regular and Daily Star families, hope you and yours enjoy the food, drink and lively conversation that make the holiday special. Whether it’s a small gathering or a large Celaya-style family blowout, we hope you’re surrounded by those who love you most.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Edward Celaya is the Arizona Daily Star’s opinion writer. He’s looking forward to a weekend full of food and family.

Opinion Writer

Edward graduated from the University of Arizona and started at the Star in 2019. He was born in Tucson, but grew up in Casa Grande and Chandler. Previously, he was a reporter and editor for Pima Community College's Aztec Press, and the UA's Daily Wildcat.