There is a day until Christmas morning and everyone bustling around each other in my grandmother's small home. The aunts are working together to prepare the masa, salsa, and corn husks, while the uncles are in the backyard preparing the meat in what looks like a witch's cauldron. The air is filled with savory spices and freshly baked sweets, a combination of scents that only happens when my family comes together to create beautiful memories. This is what my Christmas looks like every year, and I wouldn't have it any other way. There are a number of traditions we do that I find make the holidays truly special and memorable. From making tamales by the hundreds to having caldo or menudo for breakfast on Christmas morning, my family never has a boring Christmas that we don't remember. The beauty and colorful culture of being in a Hispanic home is something I am proud to share.
The main event that takes place in my home is the making of tamales. This event involves every member of the family because we make large quantities to share with the neighborhood. The elderly can be seen gingerly teaching the littlest kids while those who have learned already work at a steady pace, like a machine's gears operating without skipping a beat. The making of tamales is something that is passed down through generations and brings a sense of unity amongst the family. Sure it may just be a dish to some, but for other families like my own, tamales allow the opportunity to put aside any troubles that may be happening within our lives and spend time with those who matter most.
Once the tamales are made it's usually pretty late into the night, but the work doesn't stop there. The leftover salsa and meat are then put to good use in making menudo. It is a soup dish that consists of cow tripe and red chili pepper base, the same base that is used in tamales. By this time, the menudo is being prepared at two in the morning by the adults while the elderly put the children to bed and start sharing stories to those who wish to remain awake. By morning, all of the tamales have been steamed, the menudo has been boiled, and the celebration begins. Surrounding neighbors come by to pick up their tamales and drop off meals as thanks. The children in the house begin to wake up and line up for their menudo before gifts because "you don't menudo on your Christmas clothes" as my grandma would say to us in Spanish. Once everyone is full and has eaten, the gifts are opened and prayers are sent to those who couldn't be with us or are no longer with us. Christmas day becomes magical in every sense of the word. Living in a Hispanic home and celebrating these traditions with my family are things I am proud to share with the world. I find that these traditions are what allowed my personality to become a strong and family-oriented person I am today. Being Hispanic while growing up was a confusing thing for me and made me wonder why other homes didn't have traditions like mine. There were times that I thought my family was strange and at some point, I even didn't want to mention to others that I was Hispanic. However, later on in life, I began to appreciate the traditions and generational practices that I have grown up with because it has created a part of my identity that I don't ever want to forget. Remember to continue family traditions no matter how big or small they may be because at the end of it all, those memories are what we cherish the most.