Holiday Traditions, Mexican Holiday food

Tamales, holidays & poetry

The next couple of days are spent making tamales, so I’m sending out my Sunday Share post ahead of time.

This year it’s a vegan, vegetarian, and meat lovers tamale fest.

All of the tamales are filled with strips of California green chile. What makes them vegan is adding plant-based cheese strips, while the others have Monterrey Jack cheese, and the ex-vegan, now a meat lover, has a beef filling.

Making tamales is a lot of work. It takes hours, but worth it because of the tradition we have in our family. Every December, I write a post about tamales. The most visited is this tamale recipe.

I’ve been part of the tamale-making process since five years old. Those were the days when my aunts and cousins came over to my mom’s to make pork tamales. When only the women did the preparation. Now, the men help spread the ojas, the corn husks, and fill them. (At least at my house).

The best part of making tamales is when the family is around the table, chatting, laughing, and recalling the previous years’ stories as we spread the masa on the ojas. We always have music or a Christmas movie on in the background. We snack on appetizers as we fold, and I jump from table to sink to stove.

As I fill and fold the ojas, I think about how the masa is suffused with my culture. The filling is loaded with each of my kid’s personalities. I’m folding stories as I wrap each tamal.

This recollection helped me choose a poem by Joy Harjo to share:

Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Joy Harjo

Thank you for subscribing, commenting, and liking these posts throughout the year. I appreciate it.

May you experience the light of laughter, the warmth of love, and the joy of gratitude this season and beyond.

Holiday Traditions

Sunday Shares: Holiday Rush to Rest

It’s been a week. Sigh.

I had a car accident on the way to a holiday party. An unidentified, unsecured, flying object tumbled onto my freeway lane. It was a box the size of a big-screen TV. Before I could safely swerve out of the lane, I hit the UFO. The CHP had to do a freeway block across the lanes to pick up the debris.

We were not injured, but the bumper and headlight were destroyed.

The next day, I tried to cheer myself up and make the best of a bad situation. I listened to traditional, jazzy, and lo-fi Christmas music for the next few days. Gave gratitude that the only sore spots on my body were my lower back and my irritation that the driver of the other car didn’t stop.

Without a car, I’ve slowed down and reflected on past holidays.

When I was a single mom during the holiday season, I was working full-time, shopping for gifts, decorating the house, helping with the tamale making, corraling three active kids who had holiday recitals, wanted to see Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, and visit the two Christmas Tree Lanes in different cities. (I’m sure I left something out).

Now my kids are adults, and the holiday rush has become less active. It’s now a holiday rest.

red, green, white Christmas character on front yard with. lights

What remains is making pork tamales with my mom and sisters a week before Christmas, making vegetarian/vegan tamales with my kids, and getting together with them and their SO’s on Christmas Eve. We have a potluck, drink champurrado, and play games.

Two new plans on our holiday calendar are:

  1. Make a gingerbread house. I don’t know how that’ll turn out, but we’ll see how it goes.
  2. Placing our 106-year-old Baby Jesus in the manger. He came to us with an exciting story about how he lost his pinkie finger. (How that happened is in my monthly newsletter).

I’m grateful the car incident didn’t leave us physically damaged. And for that, I’ll celebrate. And rest.

The poem for this week is more lighthearted.

Best wishes for a safe and thoughtful holiday.