The Most Family Bonding Time of The Yearcsudhbulletin December 21, 2020 0 COMMENTS
Different cultures put new spins on classic traditions. Photo by Carlos Martinez.
By Carlos Martinez, Web Editor
The holiday season is the time of year where no matter what your neighborhood looks like the rest of the year, families find ways to showcase the inner beauty in seemingly ordinary things.
Growing up mostly in the Lakewood area, my grandmother, or nana, along with our neighbors, always managed to turn an otherwise ordinary street in an otherwise originary neighborhood into something magical.
The block has a tradition of providing festive and colorful displays that leave people in awe, and my family is part of it from Nov. 1 to Jan. 1. Just in different ways that one would expect.
Our traditions mostly revolved around home, food, and quality time together.
And, believe it or not, some of the best quality time comes during one of my least favorite things: deep-cleaning the house at least twice during the holidays.I hate cleaning with a fiery passion. I would much rather sit on my bed and draw or write short stories in my massive pile of sketch pads and composition notebooks. But no matter how much I tried to avoid any actual work, I always find myself doing a chore or two.
The reason why we go all out on cleaning is to prepare for the new year. According to my mother, cleaning our home thoroughly is cleaning out the bad vibes that built up throughout the year.
A clean house before New Year’s Eve equals a clean slate and a clean soul for the new year.
Additionally, any outfits rarely worn but are still in good condition are typically donated to local clothing drives as well as to folks who need assistance in Mexico. My family has done this for years since the late 1970s, my nana being our ambassador to Mexico to drop off donations.
On occasion, my nana would put veladoras, or candles, in front of the fireplace to pay respects to family members who sadly couldn’t join us for the holidays but are always among us in spirit.
Food also plays a huge part. During Thanksgiving and early Christmas Eve, my sisters, cousin, and I would help our nana make tamales. We formed an assembly line from the kitchen to a giant pot where we competed r to see who can wrap corn husks around the dough the fastest.
Typically, whoever won would get first pick on either a freshly baked tamale or a slice of homemade flan my mother and nana made.
Everyone took part in making something, setting up the table, or cleaning up.
Out of all the delicious treats, drinks and meals that I laid my eyes on, the one thing that was always present was grapes right before the new year. Las doce uvas de suerte, or the twelve grapes of good luck, that originated in Spain. At midnight, you eat a grape for each clock bell strike to welcome the new year.
Granted, we were never at a clock tower to follow this tradition word for word. What we do instead, is to start popping grapes in our mouth within the last 12 seconds of the year. We would often joke at anyone who couldn’t finish their dozen that they would have bad luck for months depending on the number of grapes that were left behind.
Most of the quality time is spent watching Netflix movies in the living room bunched together while sipping on a piping hot cup of arroz con leche, or rice pudding.
We would also watch some old-school religious movies like the Mexican film “La Vida de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo,” (The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ) when my nana feels like we need to revisit the lord and savior because of our dumb shenanigans.
Although this year will be different due to the ongoing pandemic and stay-at-home orders, we will still find ways to celebrate the season virtually.
But it’s okay if we can’t be together this year, I’ll be ready to help make tamales with my nana while watching boring religious movies next holiday season.