Three Generations

One of my favorite memories growing up was when I was a little girl sitting at the kitchen table looking up at my mom and grandmother as they made tamale. I remember the masa leaving globs of off-white goo on the table, while everyone around the table shared their stories, memories and happy tales. Now, I take place in the tamale making process with at least three generation of Hispanic women in one of the longest traditions taking place in my family.

My mom and grandma would tell me how they made the tamales when they were younger and how their mother would teach them how to make them just right. Now, I am starting to learn how to make them just right as well. “When I was your age and helped my mom make tamales, we went a whole different route” said my mom, Maria, right before she started explaining the differences. They had to make their own masa, chile, and any other ingredients needed from scratch. They did not buy anything already pre-made for them. When I found this out, I suddenly became grateful to know that we take the “short cut” in the making process. I cherish these moments the most.

My grandma Julie as well shared the traditions with with her own mother and now we spend time on the holidays with her. She says “having my sons and their families come over every year to continue a tradition that was started by your great grandma is one of the best parts of the year that I truly look forward to.”

My grandma also speaks of Dia de los Muertos. She would take all her daughters across the border to Mexico, and they would clean up the tombstone and burial area for her mom, my great grandma. “Even if they had school that day, I would call then in sick so that they can continue and experience the tradition,” said my grandma Grace. They would then celebrate, make altars, listen to mariachi and enjoy the great celebration. This tradition was great but over the years and generations the tradition has changed. I learned how it was celebrated and how the process takes place, but I have not really taken part in the tradition.

Another tradition that my family celebrates is el Día de los Tres Reyes Magos, or Three Kings’ Day. This tradition usually takes place at my grandma’s house with the whole family there. We would buy a rosca. For several years, I would be one of the family members to find the little toy baby in the pastry. The tradition goes as follows: the kids in the family would leave their shoes out and in the morning they would find small gifts in them. That part of the tradition we never did in my family. The important part of this tradition is spending time with the family.

The Hispanic culture is rich and thriving, having many traditions taking place all year long. Family togetherness and happy memories make the simple traditions in the culture continue living from one generation to next.

February 2010

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