When I think of Las Posadas celebrations from my childhood, I think of twinkling winter nights and the sound of voices young and old blending sweetly together. I remember how my boots would pinch my feet as I shifted from left foot to right foot, holding my little candle and sheet music, or lifting the small platform upon which the little statues of the peregrinos stood. My breath would make moist clouds rise in the cold air.
When I think of Las Posadas, I think of entering warm homes to the sound of joyful singing, and the smell of chocolate and canela filling up my senses. I remember broad smiles and warm embraces that squeeze me with soft arms, my own stretching - but not meeting - around huggable bodies.
There is laughter and food, and thoroughly cleaned rooms with little nacimientos carefully arranged on table tops covered in white felt. Tamales are piled high on the table and hot chocolate with canela is served in paper cups.
Today, as the season approaches, I have no Posadas to which I can take my children. The only other Latina I know in town is from Colombia and sadly our paths do not often cross. But I still cling to the memories with the desperation of one who is afraid of losing pieces of her childhood. I remember snuggling with my 'Buelita, and I miss her wide smile, beautiful laugh, and loving arms.
So I create new traditions for my children by telling them about my own childhood and reading them books related to Las Posadas. We fill out activity sheets, create projects, and I ask my children to try recipes that I remember or must recreate, like tamales, Abuelita's chocolate, and even buñuelos.
But for me the best thing about the holidays is not the traditions, or the gifts, or even the giving. Instead it is seeing my children embraced by their abuelita and grandpa as they walk in the door. It is in seeing the smiles that stretch from ear to ear as they peek out at me wrapped in their 'Buelita's arms. And it is in knowing that these are the moments that they will remember their whole lives, perhaps most bittersweetly when they themselves become grandparents.