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Holiday aftermath...

This holiday season was very different for me than all my other Christmases and New Years. It was mainly different because for the first time in my life I was in charge of creating that "magic" that always seems to be around at this time. New Years is just like Christmas for us, a very family centered holiday, and this 2008 was the first year I spent Christmas away from my immediate family and only the second time for New Years. Back then, it was nice when all I had to do was participate in the festivities, not really be the orchestrator of the whole show.

It was nice to walk into a home that already felt warm and cozy and inviting, but of course I never noticed all the tiny little details that my mom took care in placing in every nook and corner of the house. Yes, every year I helped her decorate the tree and put out the nativity, but my dad took care of all the lights and mom put wreaths and garlands and little odds and ends everywhere.

It was nice to help clean and tidy up the house before people came over, but I never felt the pressure of what its like to open your home up to everyone.

It was nice to go with my mom to the grocery store and pick out what we needed, but I never had to deal with the panic and last minute trips to the store to get that one last thing you forgot for dinner on Christmas Eve.

It was nice to be told (even though I complained about it all the time) that I had to help wrap tamales, or stretch buñuelos, or shred the bacalao *yuck* and not have to worry about what to make for dinner, how to cook it, how early to start it, what to do if things go wrong etc.

It was nice to fight as my dad dragged us out of our seats to dance to that god awful Mexican band music instead of sitting around trying to squash awkward silences or do something other than watch movies on tv.

I am not saying my first Christmas and New Years by myself was a disaster, or even sad in any way. Naturally I felt a bit lonely but I was happy to be with family and friends, even if it wasn't like it always used to be. We decided to spend Christmas with my sister in law and her husband, so it was 4 of us total. We spent it at my other sister in law's apartment (who was out of town) because it is bigger, has an actual dining table and is a midway point between both our homes.

In my family Christmas Eve is the main day to celebrate, and in my husband's it is Christmas so we celebrated both. The 24th I cooked some pozole and we pretty much just ate dinner and hung out with my sister in law while we waited for her husband to get home. The 25th I baked a honey ham and that was the day that seemed to drag on forever and ever and ever. All we did was watch tv and chat. It wasn't bad company just a lot different from what I am used to.

I think part of the difference is the clash of cultures, which is weird because being that we are both of Mexican backgrounds we don;t run into that issue much. The difference is that I actually grew up in Mexico, as did my sister in law's husband, while my husband and his sister grew up here in the U.S. The atmosphere, as well as the traditions, here and there is like night and day around the holidays. My parents sort of preserved that culture and tradition even after we moved to the U.S. and I am really happy about that because it has kept my roots in place.

I guess my question / insecurities that branch off of this experience is how do I maintain / create a similar feel for this time of the year if it is what I want for myself and my family. How do I share this without negating their traditions? (which doesn't seem to be as pressing of a problem since they are happy going with the flow). How will I, years later when I have my own kids, pass this on to them so they also can experience the traditions of their heritage? How do I pull this off... by myself?

This year I was bummed out that my parents couldn't come join us, but to keep in good spirits I decided I was going to cook and decorate our first Christmas tree and download some music that reminded me of home. I shared this my husband as well as my sister in law. I even shared a bit of myself for New Years, introducing the Mexican tradition of eating grapes. We spent New Years at a friend's house playing Guitar Hero and board games, and I made sure everyone who wanted to (and everyone did) had the chance to have 12 grapes to eat and make a wish / resolution for each one as the clock strikes 12. Danielle even thanked me for doing that and it was really great when she said that because I felt like for that minute someone else besides me realized just how important this was for me and as silly and simple as it sounds, it made me really happy to be able to keep at least that bit of myself.

Anyway, I don't mean to make it sound like my Christmas and New Years were horrible. I had a blast and enjoyed spending time with everyone, I guess I am just trying to work through my thoughts so I can answer some of the bigger questions that this brings up. Its not just about Christmas, or food, or even holidays, but about who I am and how I don't want to lose that part of me that is very rooted in that culture that was my parents and was passed on to me and I hope to pass on to my children some day. Food for thought I guess....


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 5th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC)
Hi, thanks for the invite!
I accept

And bless you!
For long before, during, and long after sneezes!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )