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Fronteras: No tamaladas? No problem. Native South Texan realizes holiday traditions are what you make them

For many Latino families, the holiday season is filled with tamaladas, buñuelo making, midnight mass on Christmas Eve, and posadas — a re-enactment of the nativity story of Mary and Joseph.

But not all Latinos grew up making tamales, drinking champurrado (a kind of Mexican hot chocolate) or participating in posadas.

Does foregoing these so-called Latino traditions make you less Latino? If those traditions aren’t practiced, does that mean you lose a connection with your roots?

Luis Rendon is a journalist from Laredo who has missed out on several holiday celebrations while he’s been living in New York City.

Rendon went back home to Laredo for Christmas 2021 to reunite with his family and reconnect with his heritage.

He explored that experience — and the larger meaning of Latino Christmas traditions — in a recent article for Texas Highways Magazine

He says before going home, he couldn’t remember or feel connected to certain traditions.

“It turns out going back to find them and experience them (for) myself, these traditions are all, one, different in the first place, and two, not static,” he said. “They’re always changing.”

As his family grows older and traditions are either carried on or lost, Rendon was determined to take part in all the traditions he could.

But following an unexpected solo trip to midnight mass, Rendon says he realized the real meaning behind the traditions.

“It’s opening your heart to love and not feeling the guilt of … (doing) all those things that you think — or at least I thought — were going to make me a better Tejano.”

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Marian Navarro produces for Texas Public Radio's Morning Edition and Fronteras.