Creating Traditions, but Keeping It Simple

Josie, Izzy Ortega and family

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2.   Establish the order of operations.

Taking a cue from the wisemen’s gifts, choose only three things. What are our priorities, the traditions we most certainly want to do in a given year? Talk to your spouse and your kids as they’re old enough and ask: What do you love about this season?

Here are three things we like to do leading up to Christmas (yours will be different!):

1.   Lighting candles at dinner.

2.   Advent calendar.

3.   Christmas movies.

This year, I did not: bake gingerbread, make a gingerbread house, take a special drive to look at lights, decorate the exterior of our house beyond a wreath on the door, see The Nutcracker, visit Santa and take a picture. I haven’t even made the Mexican hot chocolate like we usually do every year. I’m not decorating for New Year’s or taking the kids to our library’s kid-friendly “Noon Year’s Eve” party. These are great ideas that we’d enjoy, but they’re not priorities.

Once the top To-Do list items have been established, anything more that our family does becomes a fun bonus, rather than a task to be completed. With the stress gone, it becomes exciting to think about how to merge our different cultural practices and perhaps try something new that could become a yearly event for our family.

3.   Engage the senses (i.e., FOOD!)

When thinking about cherished family traditions, we’re asking what we remember through the years and what our kids are likely to remember. Memories are associated not only with our sense of sight, but smell, sound, touch, and taste. No wonder so many holiday traditions revolve around food!

Passed along from my husband’s family, we’ve adopted the tradition of eating twelve grapes on New Year’s Eve. And like my family in Tennessee, we’ll enjoy black-eyed peas on January 1. The dishes are different, but both cultures traditionally eat these foods to ensure prosperity for the new year. Here’s hoping we’ll be doubly prosperous in 2017!

Of course, food shared together translates into time shared together around a table (no cell phones allowed). In that way, I hope our family and yours are sure to be prosperous in the most important ways, during the holidays and throughout the entire year.

Best wishes for 2017!

Related articles:

Turkey and Tamales: Appreciating a Multicultural Thanksgiving through Stories and Food

What Are You Doing for New Year’s Eve? Here Are 5 Latino Traditions

My Five Favorite Netflix in Spanish [Video]

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About the author

Josie Ortega

Josie works at home and from home---wrangling two daughters and a baby son, and writing on parenthood, faith, and culture. She appreciates the hard work it takes to raise a multicultural family, and has a passable knowledge of spanglish. Originally from Memphis, Josie remained on the east coast after studying English and religious studies at the University of Virginia. She met her husband Israel on Capitol Hill in DC, and their dream is to open a Southern-Mexican fusion restaurant one day (but only if her suegra is available to cook).