Like most people, the holidays are one of my favorite times of the year. So many gatherings/celebrations, great company, gifts/sweet gestures, all the foods, and of course tons of love. Over the years, the Pod Squad has become part of my family and I'd love to share my holiday traditions with all of you. So grab some hot chocolate, snuggle by the fireplace, and let's get into my holiday favorites!
Throughout my journey with Baby PeaTree, I've learned lots of different definitions of "the modern family", mine being one of them; I am a child of divorce. So, over the years holidays have looked different than they did before. I'll be honest, this used to give me lots of anxiety, but now I view it as a blessing. How blessed am I that I get to have multiple celebrations with all my family?!
Thanksgiving will usually start with a small, intimate Thanksgiving dinner with Dad's family early Thanksgiving week and then A LARGE (well over 50 people) sit-down dinner with my Mom's family on actual Thanksgiving. I like to think this is the best of both worlds! Part of what I love about Thanksgiving is that my entire family gets dressed up and we begin dinner with each of us sharing something we are grateful for. This year you better believe Baby PeaTree is at the top of my list!
The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are full of some of my favorite traditions. One tradition that is a MUST is obvious... tamales! Tamales show up in a few different ways in my holiday traditions.
I love learning my mom's tamale recipe and making tamales with her, my siblings, and my sister-in-law for a cozy day in! It's the perfect time to enjoy each other's company and help my mom decorate her house.
Every year there is a "tamale party" as part of my holiday calendar. With such a large family, tamale making with my cousins for our Christmas Day celebration is usually a 2-day event. On day one, half the family goes to prep the meat and masa (these are privileged spots, cause whoever is present on this date, gets to learn Nina Concha's - the matriarch of our family - recipes for the meats and masa). Day two goes to the "production line" to make well over 20 dozen tamales for our Christmas feast!
Speaking of food, I'll also usually make 1 or 2 attempts at making my mom's pozole. These are typically days at my house when my mom comes over and "guides" me through perfecting her pozole recipe. These days are usually full of Christmas music blasting, (you know I have Mariah & John Legend's Christmas album on repeat), remembering the holiday adventures from when we were kids and my mom helping me wrap gifts!
Between Friendsgiving and other gift exchanges, you can catch me driving through some of my favorite neighborhoods in SoCal to look at Christmas lights. Or my other favorite is going to the Grove in LA to see the giant Christmas tree, revel in all the holiday decor and feels, and SoCal Christmas would not be complete without the faux snow that "falls" every quarter hour at the Grove.
But to be 100% honest, Christmas is where it's at for me. The moments I spend with my family, learning recipes, sharing stories about our ancestors, and reliving some fun holiday memories are the moments that fill my heart and when I truly feel the holiday "magic". Feeling the abundance of love from my family and the blessing of our time together along with all the fun we have is what truly makes the memories for me and what I look forward to most. It also is a season that heavily reminds me of how truly blessed I am for my family. I am blessed to be surrounded by so many loved ones.
Our family's holiday season is always wrapped up by the celebration of Día de Los Tres Reyes. My cousin's "suegros" host a huge party to honor the visit of the 3 Kings to meet the baby Jesus. We pray over the elaborate altar my tia's mom builds and honor the baby Jesus, who receives a new outfit every year to signify the experiences of the previous year. We sing posadas and end the night with a feast... A buffet that includes tamales, pozole, homemade tacos de papa, and of course pan dulce, champurrado, and ponche.
Aside from the cultural traditions, one of my biggest highlights during the holidays with both sides of my family is their open-door policies..... All are welcome! We have had friends who recently moved to LA with no family to spend the holidays with... Come on over and be part of our "family". Friends, compadres, or co-workers who have become like family over the years, are always welcome. As the generations grow and our family expands, "in-laws" have started joining our celebrations and we embrace the "blended family" culture. This idea alone has become what Baby PeaTree is founded on.
Happy Holidays Pod Squad! Love you ALL!