Merry Texas Christmas, y’all! This week on the porch, I’d like to share a bit of our Christmas season and what makes it special in this neck of the woods.
One of my favorite things about Christmas in Central Texas, is that it’s always a mystery. You never know, in terms of the weather, what Christmas will bring. After Christmas dinner, we may be playing a game of family baseball or tossing a football in the yard in our shirtsleeves, or we may be curled up by the fire with a big ol’ Texas wind howling outside and an inch of snow on the ground. Either way, I love Christmas deep in the heart of Texas. It’s filled with traditions from the melting pot of cultures that make up this wide, wonderful state.
Here are a few of our favorites high points of a truly Texas Christmas:
Tamales. Can’t have Christmas around here without them. While these *can* be purchased at the store, in any community of any size, you’ll find families gathering together to form tamale-making assembly lines, creating literally hundreds of these handmade treasures–some to keep and some to sell. Once you get on a good tamale-maker’s list, if you’re smart, you keep a standing order in from year to year. We serve our tamales on Christmas Eve, with what we lovingly call our “junk food buffet.” Tucked among cheese in all its holiday forms, and piles of Christmas candy, the tamales are generally the healthiest thing on the table. One interesting factoid about tamales–making them as a family is a long-standing tradition in many families of Hispanic heritage. As girls grow and hone their tamale-making skills, they work their way up the assembly line from sorting and washing corn shucks to the more delicate and critical jobs.
Trail of Lights. Christmas is a beautiful time to tour small towns of the Hill Country. Rich in German heritage, local towns roll out the red carpet (and some really good shop-ortunities) for the annual Christmas Lighting Trail. The lights are amazing, the German delicacies are plentiful, historic churches everywhere await Advent visitors, and beautiful, historic small-town main streets lend an old-fashioned pioneer charm to the holiday. We hit the trail over the weekend for some shopping in historic Fredericksburg, then snapped a few pictures of the lights in Johnson City on the way home. Beautiful, and the best thing about these lights were the scores of children running around underneath these ancient live oak trees, doing what children do this time of year–reveling in the joy and anticipation of Christmas.
Luminarias. Luminarias are another tradition from south-of-the-border. There’s nothing quite like the adobe walls in San Antonio, lined with twinkling luminarias. You can buy plastic luminarias now, but back in the day, Texans made these from paper lunch bags with a little sand in the bottom and a lighted candle inside. There’s something peaceful about the way luminarias look on a winter night. The new plastic ones are nice, but (all fire hazards aside) I like the old-fashioned kind best.
The Christmas Pickle. There’s some debate about the true origin of the tradition of hanging a glass pickle on your Christmas tree, but it’s said to be a German tradition, and that’s good enough for us. You’ll find glass pickles in homes and stores throughout the Hill Country. On Christmas eve, Santa hides the pickle somewhere in the tree and leaves a special gift for the first child to find the pickle on Christmas morning. (Parental note here — To avoid all-out warfare and/or the dreaded Christmas sulk, it’s not a bad idea to make sure the “Pickle Present” is something that can be shared and enjoyed by all, like a puzzle or a game (ummm… learned that the hard way ;o)
That’s a little bit of Christmas in my neck of the woods. What makes the season special where you are? Wherever this week finds you, I hope it finds you brimming with joy and anticipation as we count down the days to Christmas!
Wishing you a great, big ol’ Texas blessing from our house to yours!
I’m having a great big Reader Appreciation Giveaway! Every day this week, I’ll be giving away gift certificates for sea glass jewelry in Sandy’s Seashell Shop.