Arias Tamalada 2012

Every year my family makes tamales, some of which we eat for Christmas Eve dinner and the rest we divvy up among ourselves to enjoy for as long as we can make them last. I’d say we average around 75 dozen each year (900 or so tamales). It takes us a full weekend to make them. This year we had 14 people helping, including my aunt, uncle and cousins who came in from Austin and Waco, so the job felt quick (and extra fun). 🙂

Dad mixing the masa (a corn dough.)

Dad mixing the masa (a corn dough.)

Grandma stirring the first batch of filling. This one is pork; we also did chicken and bean.

Grandma stirring the first batch of filling. This one is pork; we also did chicken and bean.

Everyone's hard at work. Well, almost everyone. ;)

Everyone’s hard at work. Well, almost everyone. 😉

The masa is spread onto the hojas (corn husks), then filled, then folded.

The masa is spread onto the hojas (corn husks), which are then filled and folded.

We always eat the first-made of each kind. Gotta make sure they're good, right?

We always eat the first-made of each kind. Gotta make sure they’re good, right?

Workers get thirsty, y'all.

Workers get thirsty, y’all.

Back to work!

Back to work!

Grandma pauses to rock a little "O Holy Night."

Grandma pauses to rock a little “O Holy Night.”

Advice to newbies: Take off the husk before you eat it, or else you will be made fun of. A lot. See: Gerald Ford.

Advice to newbies: Take off the husk before you eat it, or else you will be made fun of. A lot.

This is one of my favorite December traditions. Hanging out with the family, laughing, singing, telling stories, being generally ridiculous and making delicious food. We also decorated my Grandma’s Christmas tree and did a gift exchange with the out-of-towners who won’t be here on Christmas Eve. I gave my uncle some coffee that I brought back from Rome; my cousin gave me this beautiful bag that she brought back from Thailand:

20121210_002759

We usually say that each year’s tamales are the best we’ve ever made. This year, though, we didn’t. Not because they aren’t good. No, as a matter of fact, I’d put our tamales up against anybody’s. I think it’s because they’re SO good that we can’t top ourselves.

Or maybe it’s because this tradition is less about the food and more about the family. Yeah, maybe that’s it.

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