My grandmother was a constant all of my life until her last day here. She was a loving, funny woman who fed us tortillas right off the grill with butter dripping down our arms. My siblings and cousins can still get a look on our faces remembering those times.
For Christmas Eve, Grandma would put on a Mexican buffet of unbelievable proportions. All of us would trek over there and hang out, eat and watch my grandma open her presents. It was an all evening laugh fest, filled with chile, tamales, ham, tortillas, rice, beans and plenty o' dessert.
When Grandma died in the 80's those festivities went away. While living in New Mexico, I realized I was missing that part of Christmas. So I started making phone calls to my cousin's, my mom and my aunt to regroup and get this party started again. I decided that my generation had to be in charge of the food so we could learn how to make the food and keep the traditions alive.
Then I threw in a new twist with an ornament exchange. You know when you can steal ornaments from someone else then they have to pick a new one or steal from another. With my family it can get a little wild. Like last night there was the reappearance of the yule stool, a turd ornament.
Last night was particularly special for us because we had cousins there who we hadn't seen in about 30 years. I won't go into the long, sad story of family hurts but I will tell you my heart was full of joy getting to see my cousins, one of the kids and the rest of my family all carrying on in the true grace of real family values. I could also feel the spirits of my grandmother, my father and uncle enjoying the laughter and love in the room.
And it wasn't even Christmas Eve. No wonder I love this time of the year the most.