Thursday, December 28, 2006

a very Cali Christmas

Tamales are a very big Christmas tradition in my house. In fact, making them is quite the social event. As a kid, I would sit and watch my mom, bro, and sis make tamales by creating an assembly line. All tucked into their corn husks, the tamales would then go in a giant pot and be steamed for hours until the masa (or cornmeal) would lose its mushy consistency. As I got older, my role in the tamale making process progressed from washing and rinsing the corn husks to spreading the masa on the husk to rolling them up nicely to (the most important part) spreading the braised pork and salsa on the masa. The assembly line was very effective as it allowed us to make hundreds of tamales at a time. And of course, the best part was finally getting to eat the fruits of our labor.

Growing up, my least favorite part about Christmas was having to stay up late for midnight mass. It was painful at times. After all, I was just a kid. Sleep was very valuable to me then (it still is now, I just don’t get much) and it was just too hard for me to stay awake during mass. But I was motivated by one thing: presents! After midnight mass (even though I was dead tired), we’d all gather around the tree and finally open Christmas presents. I was so excited to see what Santa had brought me that I totally forgot I was so sleepy.

Luckily for Jesse and I, we got to participate in the tamale making process and were allowed to skip the mass part! So, on Christmas Eve, just a few hours after our plane touched down in John Wayne OC Airport, Jesse and I took our places in the assembly line. It was Jesse’s first time making tamales and I was so looking forward to his participation in the process this year. As we put them together, we chatted it up with my mom and sis. With Jesse’s help, we were able to do two short assembly lines for maximum tamale making (Jesse had the ever important meat filling role while I was his masa spreader). He seemed to be enjoying it and that made me very happy.

My brother and his family came over for Christmas Eve dinner and we were finally able to eat the tamales. They were delish (so good in fact that they were the only things we ate for the next two days)! Following dinner we proceeded over to the Christmas tree to open presents (no midnight mass for us this year). I was eagerly anticipating everyone’s reactions as Serena opened her presents from me. Since her birthday was just a few days earlier, she had plenty of practice at the art of gift opening. As she dug through the gift bag, she finally pulled out the Traveler plush (that plays the USC fight song) and my brother and his wife were shocked (see pic below as I was able to capture this moment on camera). The reaction was priceless and exactly what I was hoping for!

It’s been so long since I was last home for Christmas that I almost forgot what it was like to spend it with my family. And since Jesse was with me, it really felt as though my family were complete. It was all I wanted for Christmas!

I sincerely hope that your holiday was as memorable as mine!


Sharkbait said...

I am soooo glad you had such a fun time and everything went smoothly!!!!

D and I had a blast, and got to relax. Yay!

Let's get together soon.

DCWeddingPhotog said...

yay! tamales! i hope all is well. xoxo.

Jered said...

So glad to see you at the good old cheesecake factory MV in the OC. Altough, those tamles sound a little more tempting than my banana cream cheesecake. Take Care!!