Whatever our faith, most of us have a mix of Holiday memories. My childhood ones mostly revolve around my BIG family. With eight fussy children to feed, my mom found the daily meal preparation to be an onerous chore. We all liked different foods so there was no pleasing everyone. Except on December 25th! She always outdid herself on this day and we couldn’t get enough of the turkey, the ham, and “all the fixings.”
In our playroom, Dad would set up huge tables made from sawhorses and sheets of plywood; then he’d cover them with festive paper tablecloths. He strung colored lights around the perimeter and we all contributed to the décor with our handmade decorations… My uncle and aunt, their six kids, and an assortment of friends joined in the feast, after which we’d open another round of presents. What excitement!
In an attempt to recapture that warm, wonderful feeling, I have followed my parents’ example and done my best to provide a similar Yuletide experience for my son and daughter.
Of course, Mérida, México has a very different environment than that of my hometown, Vancouver, Canada. But as is the case with most aspects of our family life, Christmas has evolved into a bicultural celebration.
December 24th has always been enjoyed with Jorge’s family, in the Yucatecan tradition. We begin with 7:30 pm Mass at El Jesus Church… visiting with friends… a midnight dinner of pavo horneado, lomo clavatiado, and ensalada de noche buena… fireworks… a star-shaped piñata… presents and partying half the night!
Once we wake up on the 25th, Canadian Christmas starts. We warm-up with presents from under the tree, bacon & tomato sandwiches and then commence the all-day-long cooking and prep for the faithfully recreated “feast from the north!” Prior to this special night, I gather pumpkin pie filling, cranberry sauce, mincemeat and other hard-to-get ingredients. Turkeys are indigenous to México and spicy ham is easy to find… it all comes together beautifully…
We usually set up rented tables in our garden and enjoy our meal with a collection of “family we have chosen.” Often there’s a Canadian contingent on hand and they always marvel at the outdoor dining concept… that sure could NOT happen in Vancouver!
Since moving to México thirty-five Christmases ago, I’ve totally enjoyed the Holidays… I missed the snow the first few years but soon realized that whether I’d have a “White Christmas” or find myself dining al fresco… the spirit of the season is to be found wherever I look for it.