I am Colombian, my husband is Bulgarian, and daughter is American. You can call us your now typical American family. While I am Latina and I want my daughter to embrace her Latino heritage she is also Bulgarian with Mediterranean ancestry and that is also a part of who she is. Like our family, there are many multicultural families that want to share their customs with their children, but how can we do it in a way that makes Everyone including abuela happy?
Now, my daughter is still young, and I am sure things will evolve as she continues to grow up, but here are some things we are doing this Christmas that blend our traditions that works for everyone (well right now at least).
1) Decide where you will spend Christmas Eve & Christmas Day.
Thanksgiving is typically spent with my familia (mom, dad, and sister) in Florida. Christmas I like to spend at home in NY. While we have traveled to Seattle where my Mother in Law lives on previous Christmases (before our daughter was born), the past 2 Christmases she has come to visit us on Christmas Day. We try and make everyone happy so we spend 1 big holiday with los abuelos, 1 big holiday with grandma, and 1 big holiday just us. Navidad is about family, unity, peace, joy, and love. Sometimes a little compromise is needed to make everyone happy and remember especially with aging parents, time spent now will be treasured memories later.
2) Use technology to your advantage.
If it were up to me I'd spend every single holiday with my mami and papi. However, I'm not alone and unfortunate I'm not a million miler member with any of the airlines...yet. But we have technology at our fingertips, so every Christmas for the past few years, I Skype or Facetime when we open my family's gifts and they wait to open ours. It's the next best thing to physically being there and we get to see their reaction. Plus, it makes our loved ones who are far away feel like they are still a part of our Christmas celebration.
3. Share and embrace your spouse's traditions even if it means modifying yours.
I grew up in Miami and Christmas Eve or Nochebuena became a Colombian, Cuban, Puerto Rican mosh of customs. We had pernil, with congri (Cuban black beans and rice), and natilla and buñuelos (typical Colombian Christmas foods). After I married my husband, we adopted his Christmas Eve meal tradition because it was so unique and beautiful. In Bulgaria they observe Christmas Eve as the Last Day of Lent so a meatless meal is served. Yes MEATLESS, no pernil, no tamales de carne, no turkey, so that was a change for this Latina. However, it is beautiful. 7 dishes are prepared, each with it's it own meaning, including "Banitza," which is a bread that contains a coin and whomever shall get the piece with the coin is predicted to have good fortune for the following year.
Which meant modifying my typical Nochebuena meal. So now on Christmas Day we do a mix of my Nochebuena with Bulgarian leftovers.
4. When to open those regalos (gifts).
Growing up, when we opened the regalos changed a bit, thanks to my big brother. Since we were confused anyway as to whom brought us gifts (Santa or Niño Dios, wait til I do a future post on the Tooth Fairy!) it really didn't matter whether is was Christmas Day morning or late Christmas Eve. My parents were always creative and managed to surprise us. Some years we stayed up all night on Christmas Eve, others we woke up early on Christmas Day. I know many Latino families that also stay up all night on Nochebuena. This year we will incorporate my up all nighters with my husand's traditional Christmas Day gift opening by allowing Victoria to open 1 gift on Nochebuena and the rest on Christmas morning. Best of both worlds.
5) Create a new tradition to call your own.
We are still a young family and without even knowing it creating new traditions of our own. Traditions are created over time and while we have adopted the traditions passed down to us, I am sure we will create a new one, we just don't know it yet. Here are some new tradition ideas that I gathered from friends & family that you can incorporate. Check out our New Holiday Traditions Boardfor more ideas:
- Have a Christmas Pajama Party (everyone wears similar pajamas)
- Takes a Christmas themed pic
- Christmas Day at the Movies (go out to see the latest Movie)
- Holiday Movie (watch your favorite holiday movie like Home Alone, Elf, a Christmas Story, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc) every year.
- See holiday lights. (maybe it's a specific neighborhood or the local zoo)
- Go ice skating.
- Bake cookies, buñuelos, or churros for Santa.
- Go to church.
- Create a family scrapbook page with leftover holiday paper.
- Create Christmas Day Pancakes
- Play a Family Game like Monopoly or Loteria.
- Do Christmas crafts with letftover holiday wrapping paper.
- Write gratitude cards for family album. (Each family member writes what they are grateful for this year. Each year 1 new card can be added to your family keepsake album.)
- Funny moments of the year game. Each family member recalls the funniest story or moment of the year.
- Listen to some vinyl.
- Use the phone to actually call a friend or relative to wish them a Feliz Navidad.
- Go to a holiday theme park.
- Write Christmas Thank Yous/New Year's Cards if your xmas cards didn't make it in time.
- Volunteer at a local charity.
- Go hiking.
- Build a snowman (out of snow or sand)
- Create a time capsule (each family includes a treasure from the year, ex: kid's artwork, first lock of cut hair, first baby tooth, concert ticket stub, newspaper articles )
- Go fishing.
- Go for a scenic drive.
- Do a 1000 piece holiday puzzle.
- Make a Christmas ornament.
- Attend a Broadway or off Broadway show.
- Attend a concert.
- Play tourist in your city.
- Plan your next family vacation.
- Visit a friend or family member you haven't seen in a while.
- Share holiday leftovers with the neighbors.
- Adopt a pet.
- Read a book out loud.
- Read the bible.
- Create a family new year vision board.
- Make a family Christmas movie or music video.
- Make a family bloopers video.
- Watch old family videos.
- View old family photos.
No matter what you do or how you celebrate Navidad in this year of chaos, may you enjoy it. Take a few moments to truly be present and don't sweat the small stuff. In this big picture we call life it's those small moments of happiness (in between the tantrums, headaches, screaming, & whining) that make being a mamá truly special.