Do you know how long it takes to drive from Southern California to Nayarit, Mexico? Approximately a day and a half. I know this because when I was a kid my family took that trip every year. I have such strong memories of those vacations; leaving our house around 4 a.m.; my mother packing up the car with an immense about of food; Los Bukis’ classics blasting on the radio; getting car sick and devouring Sal de Uvas. Most of all, it was just being together with my family, with no other choice but to remain a unit for the entire car ride until we arrived in my parent’s hometown of Jalcocotan. Now, we’re all grown adults, and those family trips are a thing of yesteryear. That’s why I have started taking my husband to Mexico every year to celebrate my culture, family and home country.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been slowly finding my way back to those memorable ventures by creating a whole new tradition — with my white husband.
Mexico has changed since I was a child. For as long as I could remember, the region where my family is from — Jalcocotan and Tepic — rarely experienced any kind of violence. Around 2009, however, a surge of shootings and murders occurred in the area and the increase in violence kept me away from my home country. Now that things seem to have gone back to normal, I’ve begun to go back and reignite the tradition once again.
I suppose, at the core of it, I miss that closeness I used to have with my family while we visited Mexico.
My siblings and I rarely fought, and neither did my parents. We just seemed to always get along and have so much fun while we vacationed. It’s like our day-to-day problems didn’t matter and simply faded away. So bringing my husband, Aaron, to Mexico, helps me get back to that place of nostalgia and a culture that I adore.
This time around I’m revisiting places I haven’t been to since I was a kid and seeing them in a whole new light, through my husband’s lens.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Araceli Cruz
I’m also discovering new beaches and towns that I never even know existed. It’s quite thrilling to experience memories as an adult and even more bizarre to share them with someone who is completely new to all of it.
The trips back are becoming a yearly occurrence again and this Christmas will be our third consecutive trip. For me, visiting my home country at the holidays is always so special.
Aaron knows a lot about my Mexican traditions like celebrating Day of the Dead and doing a bunch of crazy rituals on New Year’s Eve. He’s the tallest person at our family gatherings, so he was once asked to hold the piñata for all my nieces and nephews to hit. But that was in L.A. Celebrating Christmas in Mexico is going to be way different than anything we could do in the U.S.
There’s nothing quite like Noche Buena — Christmas Eve.
I’m really looking forward to sharing our Mexican Christmas traditions with him such as drinking champurrado (perhaps spiked with tequila!), singing posadas, breaking piñatas, eating tamales and buñuelos, dancing all night and of course honoring el Niño Jesús.
Although I’m very proud my Mexican culture, I’ve also learned to incorporate Aaron’s traditions into my life as well.
He’s of German descent, born in eastern Iowa and raised in St. Louis. Suffice to say, our cultures aren’t the same. Aaron and I, have lived in North Carolina, and now we’re in Savannah, Georgia. So we’ve added some delightful Southern culinary traditions into our celebrations. For example, this past Thanksgiving we smoked our turkey. Sounds insane, right? But I’m here to tell you that Oprah did it too, so I don’t feel so weird now. Aaron’s family also has a Thanksgiving tradition of reading from William Bradford’s diary before they start the meal. This year we read Abraham Lincoln’s “Thanksgiving Proclamation” in which he declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. Not what I’m used to, but this cultural sharing has to go both ways or it doesn’t work.
To get us ready for our trip, I’ve created a really incredible playlist full of retro ’80s songs.
You’re invited to listen to it too! Enjoy!