When the Tamales Are Ready, Christmas Has Arrived

¡Feliz temporada de los tamales! Gathering ‘round the kitchen to make tamales is a true labor of love for many families of Mexican descent. And for Isai Molina, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without all the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this time-honored holiday tradition.

For Mexican and Mexican-American families, it’s pretty common that on Christmas Eve that the mom, aunts, sisters and cousins will wake up really early and start preparing tamales. One of my memories is waking up on Christmas Eve, walking into the kitchen and seeing just an assembly line of a mess, basically.

Corn pots everywhere, pots, things boiling, steaming, a lot of noise, a lot of talking, a lot of chattering. But definitely a lot of joy as family members all working together to put the tamales together. It’s a process that takes a good 4 to 6 hours or so. Once they’re done, the smell goes throughout the house, and you sort of know, okay, Christmas has arrived. Everybody just starts getting ready and asking, all right, is it time to eat?

It’s really nice. That smell brings some really good memories in it. You know, it still happens today. So on a yearly basis, once it hits, you sort of know, hey, it’s time to enjoy the tamales and eat as many as you can. And many times you end up eating as many as you can and probably a bit too much.

It’s a very joyful time and something that me and my family get to enjoy on a yearly basis. So thanks, Mom, because they’re really good.

Happy Holidays!

Theme graphic for McAfee & Taft Holiday Memories video series