I am Colombian, my husband is Bulgarian, and our 2 year old 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 will soon be 3, so she 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).
Thanksgiving was 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 (Christmas Eve). 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Board for more ideas:
No matter what you do or how you celebrate Navidad, 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. From my family to yours Merry Christmas Everyone! We actually DID get our Santa picture this year ;)
While it may be easier as adults to celebrate a deceased one's life, a child that experiences the loss of a loved one can be a very traumatic experience. Helping our kids Honor and remember the dead or departed in a positive and creative way can help them better deal with their emotions and better understand why we as Latinos honor this tradition. Here are 10 way we can Celebrate Dia de los Muertos with our kids.