In the West, Christmas traditions are as diverse as the people who make them! It may mean hiking into the pasture while wielding an ax, in search of the “perfect” Christmas tree. Oh, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t completely perfect. You can always put the wonky side against the wall. Christmas is a time to overlook imperfections. Just throw on a few more sparkly lights and some extra ornaments. No one will notice. And if they do notice, they’ll be too polite to mention it.
Mexican Christmas traditions have woven themselves into the fabric of the West. There’s the tradition of making Christmas tamales. If you don’t make them yourselves, no worries. . . there’s probably a tamale stand tucked off the side of a country road that is doing a booming business. Other beloved Mexican traditions like Luminarias are everywhere, and the tradition of making corn husk dolls endures even today. . .and don’t forget the sinfully crispy and buttery bizochito, subtly spiced with cinnamon and anise. OOH!
The Christmas season is the only time of the year when it is perfectly acceptable to exclaim, “Goodness! I only have sixteen sticks of butter left. I have to run to the store!” How else are you going to be able to provide a tin of homemade cookies to everyone from the neighbors to your dog groomer? Those cookies shaped like little candy canes aren’t going to make themselves, you know.
Christmas in the West is a time when little girls don velvet dresses and little boys wear vests to join their parents on the rounds of holiday open houses. It’s a time when there are always a few extra gifts pre-wrapped and tucked away in the closet for the people you may have forgotten. It’s a time to enjoy Christmas carolers who have a distinct drawl to their voices. If you live in the country, you might enjoy good, old-fashioned bonfire with friends and friends of friends and a few mystery people you don’t even recognize.
My family has a “Traditional Christmas Day Horseback Ride”, come snow or shine, below zero temperatures, or even blizzard conditions. We just saddle up, grab a flask of brandy, and head on out! It makes us really appreciate the warmth of a roaring fireplace when we return home. We often muse that the experience brings us closer to Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather Jedidiah’s struggles during the Revolutionary War, or Great Grandfather Orlando’s journey West to settle in Leadville, Colorado back in the Silver Rush of 1879. And we often wonder what their Christmas celebrations were like.
Throughout the West, families still enjoy holiday meals that feature black-eyed pea and cabbage soup, with cornbread. The black-eyed peas are said to bring luck for the coming year. The cabbage is said to bring prosperity. And the cornbread is just thrown in because, well. . . everything tastes better with cornbread!
All of this talk about the holidays is making me eager to crawl into the attic for the holiday decorations, and I am running a bit late on that! So, we will wish you all the happiest and most joyous holiday ever!
Happy Trails, y’all!