I love being a mom. Life with Benny is like discovering the world all over again. I’d forgotten the plainness of unsalted pea mush, the mesmerizing quality of ceiling fans, the curiosity of feeling new textures (like candy wrappers and kitten fur) for the first time. It’s all so shocking and strange.
Even more special than seeing all the everyday stuff through new eyes, though, is the joy of experiencing family traditions with Benny. Some have been handed down through faith, some through generations, and some Jeff and I are just adopting and making part of our family culture. How we celebrate might even evolve as our family evolves, and that’s okay. But they all add a certain magic quality to our everyday lives.
Now, I know Benny probably won’t remember his first Hallowtide, or most of his “firsts”, for that matter. And still I marvel at vibrancy with which he’s colored each one. I love that he’ll grow up immersed in these traditions that mark him as a member of our family. He’s going to be a Steelers-cheering, “Bravo, bravo”-singing, chili-eating, Kempmas-loving, rosary-praying kid…he’ll know what I’m talking about when I say it’s magic.
In recent years, my family started making a big pot of chili to feast on throughout Halloween evening. More specifically, my Tía Paty prepares Texas style chili from the recipe on the back of a mug my mom gave her forever ago. LOL. To my surprise, Jeff’s family does this too! I don’t know, maybe this is actually a thing and I just wasn’t aware – does anyone else have this tradition?
This year, we hosted the festivities at our place and Jeff made his mom’s chili to perfection, complete with macaroni and oyster crackers. I feel like Halloween is the one holiday that is meant to be celebrated as a community, and a crockpot of chili is such a cozy, yet easy, dish to prepare and share with everyone.
Benny’s just starting on solids so this one was a no-no, but he did get to go trick-or-treating. “Jack Jack” obviously loved the sparkling displays and grabbing at the candy bowls. We obviously loved getting to eat the spoils and getting to put together a family costume with my sister (we told kids who asked that Dash was grounded at home)!
All Saints’ Day
We’ll call this one a work in progress…but one day, I’ll fulfill my vision of All Saints’ Day parties with saint-inspired treats and costumed kiddos. I mean, how cute would Benny be dressed up as his patron saint or St. Michael??
All Souls’ Day
Coco is easily my favorite animated film, tied with The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I seriously can’t NOT cry at the end when Miguel sings “Proud Corazon” and you see the Rivera family, both living and deceased, all reunited. It so beautifully captures the value of family in Mexican culture, as well as highlights Día de los Muertos (which is celebrated on All Souls’ Day), when we remember and pray for the souls who’ve gone before us.
It had been a looong while since we’d hosted a get-together with a group of our friends, and All Souls’ Day was the perfect reason to have everyone over again. Now, I like having everything in order before people arrive. I think it’s a big part of hospitality to provide a clean house and have food ready so our guests can just enjoy themselves. This was actually super easy to put together, though. Making it a potluck and having a second batch of chili meant we had a ton of food and drinks. And since Benny isn’t crawling yet, we were – safely – able to set up our fireplace as an ofrenda, to which everyone added pictures of their dearly departed.
The evening began with a rosary, and even my little guy seemed to participate! I think the rhythm of the prayers must have distracted him from his sweet potatoes. We feasted on tamales and pan de muerto, enjoyed some lively conversation as Coco played in the background, and ended with Night Prayer.
What are some of your favorite traditions? I’d love to hear how they got started or passed down!