A Few of My Favorite Things: Christmas Traditions Old and New

Merging old and new Christmas traditions and making new memories.

As a young girl, I always loved my wonderful family traditions for Christmas. From decorating our Christmas tree with all of our crafty, home-made ornaments, making Mexican hot cocoa and pan de polvo cookies, and buying or making gifts for everyone in my family, it was always a very special time of the year.

On Christmas Eve, we’d go to midnight mass and then, upon returning home, we were allowed to open up one gift under the tree before Santa delivered his holiday haul to the Trevino kids. I have to admit, I was always a little naughty, sneaking around while no one was looking and undoing the tape on some of my gifts to get a peek at what I could expect the next day. That being said, Santa still somehow managed to bring me gifts even if I clearly should not have been on his “nice” list with that kind of behavior.

I also vividly remember one Christmas Eve, groggily waking up to the sound of jingle bells on the roof-top, no joke. I was so shocked, that I quickly tucked myself back in under the covers and forced my eyes closed, too scared that I would be caught trying to get a glimpse of Santa while he was delivering my gifts.

Every Christmas day, we’d wake up in the morning and get dressed in our holiday finest. My mom, being the fashionista of her day, had usually made me a beautiful, fancy dress of crimson red or evergreen velvet with lace and bows. Sometimes she’d make us matching mom and daughter outfits.

On that special day, the house would be filled with the aromas of tamales, Mexican rice, pinto beans, and maybe menudo. Tias, tios, abuelos y abuelas, comadres y compadres and lots and lots of primos y primas would arrive to exchange gifts, share food dishes, catch up on family goings-on and tell plenty of tall tales to the kids.

As the kids all grew up and spread out to locations all across the US, it was difficult to always get everyone together for the holidays, but those food, decorating and family traditions found their way into my grown-up life.

This 2021 holiday season holds a lot of mixed emotions for families. From the grief and loss of loved ones during the pandemic, some families are still trying to find a way to move forward. For other families, the celebration of Christmas together with loved ones after missing out on Christmas 2020 due to the coronavirus brings tears of happiness. We will all be going through our own version of the holidays this year.

I feel so fortunate and blessed  to celebrate the holidays with cherished loved ones and will always share as much as I can of my old family traditions, but I’ve also added a few new ones to my list. Here are just a few of my new favorite things!

• Baking my mom’s traditional recipes with my sister. After begging my mom for a long time, she finally took the time to type up many of her traditional Mexican recipes as well as dishes she came up with on her own that she fed us as kids growing up. She shared the recipes with me, my brother and sister and all of our cousins as a way to keep us all connected. I find it a fun way to celebrate a holiday or spend a weekend buying the ingredients and having my sister or my girlfriends help make some of these dishes.

My sister and I making Polverones together for the holidays

• Ugly Christmas sweaters! Being in the business of fashion, I get a lot of requests to design ugly Christmas sweaters…some pretty hideous and some more “blingstastic.” I love gifting these beauties to my family and then immortalizing the ugly, fun-ness of it all in holiday photos worthy of Christmas cards.

Family fun time in our ugly Christmas sweaters

• Christmas Eve new traditions: My sister and I both live in the New York metro area and now with significant others in our lives and extended families, Christmas Day is not always a day we can spend together. That wasn’t going to stop us from figuring out a special way of celebrating together. Our tradition became spending Christmas Eve together. We consider it our high/low Christmas hang-out because we’re typically in sweats or pajamas, but eating some of the finest treats. From a charcuterie spread to chilled shrimp and cocktail sauce, oysters, a caviar and toast points platter and, of course, plenty of Prosecco, we make sure to enjoy gourmet delicacies of our adult lives in New York. We usually wake up Christmas morning and have bagels and smoked salmon with coffee to cheerily send us off on our separate plans for the day.

• Taking extra days to be together. Now that working from home has become a new normal for myself and some of my family members, it’s been a bit easier to take some extra time to spend with family and make a schedule where we can all maximize our family time together. Previously, I may have only been able to make it a long weekend, tacking on a day or two to the weekend to spend with family. With the mobility of zoom calls for work, I’ve been fortunate to be able to make a family trip a full week even if it means I am doing work for some of the days. It’s still great to be able to spend this extra time with family. Knowing how much we missed out on last year, I’ve made it a priority to spend as much time together as possible.

Getting the eight of us together is no easy task with work schedules, but here we are in 2021

• Donating to my local pet shelter. Being the owner of two adorable rescue cats and having had three other rescue cats in my life, I can’t think of anything more fulfilling than donating to the shelter that they came from. When I think of all the time, energy and love that the staff and volunteers give to these animals in need, it’s just a rewarding feeling to know that I’ve contributed in some way to making the life of these animals just a little bit better. My siblings also have adopted animals from shelters so for us, this truly hits home. Maybe you have a particular charity or cause that is meaningful to you? Donating supplies, gifting money, volunteering, fostering, adopting…think of all of the wonderful things you can do to help others in need.

Santa’s elves with a sleigh of goodies for Hi-Tor Shelter in Pomona, NY

Whatever your plans are for Christmas Day, making them your own is important. We all have new traditions that we’ve started that work for our grown up lives. As we’ve married, divorced, had unexpected life events, had children, added pets to our home, brought new friends and co-workers into our circles, life evolves. Sharing your old traditions is fun, but creating new ones that speak to our current lives is how we continue to pass them on.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas with family and traditions!

Related content:

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

Taste of Puerto Rico at Christmas Time

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…So We Drove to the Mall!

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