Today my kin will gather to celebrate Christmas Eve. We will do all the things that are expected at such gatherings – eat, drink, and be merry. Between now and then, I will make an inordinate number of enchiladas and homemade tortilla chips for my contribution to our holiday meal. Our family loves a Mexican Christmas.
Of the things that we clearly retained from our California roots, a deep appreciation for Mexican food is one of them. We try and include it in every gathering we can and we do so without apology to all the turkey and ham holiday providers. We do what is right for our family, not what convention might dictate. Although, I will share that Cheyenne (the only child that never lived in California) has had angst in the past about what she views as non-traditional meal choices for holidays. She used to lament that she wished her family was “normal” and did what everyone else does for the holidays – to include a traditional ham or turkey.
Pish posh Cheyenne! We don’t do normal for other folks…we do normal for us, even if it seems abnormal to others. She eventually came around to the collective appreciation of a Mexican Christmas, but she still labels it as one of her family’s nutty traditions (even though she is one of the first in line for enchiladas). What she does not realize is that years from now – long after I am gone – she will probably still be having a Mexican Christmas with her own family. These are the traditions that we carry forward because they are imbued with memories of past family holiday celebrations. At some point she will realize that it wasn’t the food choice at all. The food plays only a small supporting role to a family coming together to share what uniquely makes them family (and that can be so many things – things that have nothing to do with being a blood relative). These are the lessons we give our children in these times when come together whether they know it or not…and whether there are enchiladas or turkey or moo goo gai pan at the dining table.
Feliz Navidad my friends! May your holiday celebrations be filled with all the smells, sounds, foods, drinks, and people you treasure. Today and always, I wish you the simple joys that reside in special places in your heart.
Day one thousand two hundred and sixty-nine of the new forty – obla di obla da