Stephanie’s Christmas Traditions

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Santa Claus is not real.

This reveal didn’t come as a shock for 10-year-old me, because to me all Santa Claus was, was a cartoon character like SpongeBob or Bugs Bunny, because the presents didn’t just appear under the Christmas tree overnight but over the month of December and the presents never said “by Santa” but “by a family member.” Also, I have never lived anywhere with a chimney, so it didn’t make sense for him to come to my house, because how would he get in? These were all many things that I would only see on TV but never in real life.

It all just showed how my family celebrates Christmas because even though my family is not religious, we do celebrate the religious side of Christmas. Growing up my parents never asked me what I wanted Santa to bring me for Christmas but what I wanted for the baby Jesus to bring me, which sounds weird in English but makes sense in Spanish. Everything about Christmas revolved around religion.

We begin the festivities on the 16th of December with Posadas, which commemorate the journey that Joseph and Mary made from Nazareth to Bethlehem. My whole neighborhood would participate in this, and it would be a community event every year. We would all gather in one house and from there walk to the house hosting la posada while singing songs such as Campanas de Belen, El Burrito Sabanero and many more. Once at the host house, everyone would settle in and a rosary would be done. After the rosary, we would all eat dinner together or a late-night snack depending on what the host house served. Everyone would also receive a goody bag filled with candy and the host house would hand out candy in a basket. The following evening we would meet at the house that hosted the previous night and begin from there. The posadas would be every evening until the 24th of December. The last posada would normally take place in the morning and it would go how it usually does, except since this is the final posada, there is a piñata that is filled with the candy that was collected in the basket. The piñata would bring an end to the posadas.

The posadas are a big part of the Christmas festivities but not the end. After the last posada, my family would go home and get ready to celebrate Christmas at a family member’s house. Being able to see my whole family would be my favorite part of the holidays, because the family would not only be the ones living in Texas but also the ones visiting from Mexico. The house would be filled with music and the smell of the different foods mixing: the ponche, tamales, champurrado, the rompope and many other holiday foods.

At 11:59 p.m. we all gather in one room and wait for the clock to turn to midnight. At midnight we wish everyone a Merry Christmas with hugs, and one of my cousins always gives a heartfelt speech. It is then time for what all the children were anxiously waiting for, but sadly most of them fell asleep before midnight. Nonetheless, we continue. It’s time to open the presents, and, to build the anticipation, we would begin from the oldest to the youngest. After all the presents have been opened, we spend a few more hours together before saying our goodbyes.

By the time we would get home it would be very early Christmas day, usually around 3 in the morning. Once at home we would all go to bed for a few hours before waking up and going to the next celebration. After resting for a few hours we would go have breakfast at another family member’s house. The breakfast would be the leftover tamales and more champurrado from the night before. 

Following breakfast would be another rosary but this time is to celebrate the birth of Christ. This marks the end of the Christmas festivities as everyone heads home and goes back to their regular day things. December is a busy month for me, and that’s what makes Christmas my favorite holiday, because practically every night is a celebration.

This year will be a small celebration with my parents, brother and I in our house. We have never celebrated Christmas without our extended family, but this year has brought a lot of changes in the way everyone lives. Even though I do enjoy celebrating with my whole family and friends at the end of the day, it is my parents and brother that make it special.