Merry Cree-mas! That's how my Tia would pronounce it. God bless her. Life has been tough for her this past year. Te quiero mucho Tia!
I hope you all have a very Feliz Navidad. Go to town on those Tamales! This may be a bit traitorous, considering my family is from El Salvador, but I'm partial to Mexican Tamales. I love the red chile beef, pork, and especially the green chile con queso. Mmm-mmm-mmm!
For my vegetarian friends: Watch out for the "non-meat" tamales. The masa is probably made with Manteca- LARD. Yummy!
Vegetarianism is a new concept to Latinos from the old country. A meal solely comprised of vegetables is not considered a meal. It's an ensalada. A salad, which is an appetizer or snack. And if it doesn't have meat, take for example a pot of beans, there was some meat product used in the making of it. Just how it is.
Eating habits are changing for folks from the old country. Given the amount of people getting diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol, more folks are adopting healthier eating- including vegetarian meals.
My mom only eats organic stuff from the farmers' market and Whole Foods. She listens to nutrition shows and watches Dr. Oz. This was the woman who would would serve us braised pork ribs in a chile sauce with rice, beans, and tortillas, at least once a week. Of course there was always a salad to start things off. Gotta balance things out with a gringo tradition. You know?
I dont' want to make this a health food entry. I was just thinking out loud about Christmas and food I grew up eating, the mass partying I did around the Holidays (to cover up my deep seeded depression), and how much I really love Christmas!
From 1997-2005, I spent every Christmas in New York and New Jersey. I experienced the "White Christmas" mixed in with the "Latin Version" which resulted in many empty bottles of wine and rum.
Christmas Day was usually a recovery day back then. Kind of Sacrilegious right? I remember my Dad always saying, "I'm not drinking tonight, because it's Jesus' birthday." Ha! That didn't last long.
When I was a kid, my Mom and Stepdad hosted some orphans from Tijuana for the holidays. It was kind of weird at first to have these strange kids staying in "my house", playing with "my toys". There was some fights. I'll never forget the joy on their faces when they opened presents like G.I. Joes and Transformers, things they never would have gotten. I felt very blessed.
When we drove them back to the Orphanage, I cried. I never grew up with siblings. My Step Sister would stay with us every other weekend. I love her to death and consider her my actual sister, but it was a different feeling having "brothers" around all the time. I hope those kids are all right. They're men like me now. Wow.
My mom always talked about how Christmas was about the Birth of our Lord and not about presents. Try telling that to an 8 year old who just got a bunch of new Transformers.
Now that I'm almost grown up, I really appreciate what she was trying to tell me. I'm not a devout Catholic or Bible Thumping, follower of Christianity. However, I remember my Step Father telling me that whether or not the events actually happened in Bethlehem, as depicted in the Gospel of....can't think of it now; the whole point is a message of Hope. Hope for Peace. Hope for the betterment of Mankind. Hope that we can believe in something pure and greater than ourselves.
I HOPE that you all have a wonderful and Merry Christmas. For my brothers and sisters that celebrate the festival of lights, Happy Hannukah. For those that don't celebrate any Holidays this time of year: Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All.