My Dad is the oldest of ten kids. My earliest memories of our holiday celebrations are a blur of faces talking at me. I learned to be an excellent listener as a child. I found that if I could fade into the background, beyond the frenzy, I could listen in on the most fascinating conversations, grown up talk that I shouldn't be hearing. The 70's were a pretty rocky decade for my dad's side of the family so the eavesdropping opportunities were excellent.
Some of the fun memories involve my aunts getting together to make tamales. We didn't do it often but when we did the stories were juicy. I was thirteen years old the last time I went to a family tamale party. Today we started the tradition again. We plan to do it annually from now on. Sadly, my grandfather is a king-sized asshole so we don't really want him around. Because tamale making is "women's work" we knew we wouldn't be seeing him today.
I love my aunt and uncles but we don't see a lot of each other because when we get together grandpa inevitably shows up. I know it's sad and it sounds cruel but, well let's just say he can be abusive. New horrors were revealed today. The older I get the worse the stories get. I think it might be a sort of therapy for them to openly discuss what they went through. Somehow, in spite my grandfather, they turned out to be really good people.
Today was one of the good days. We marveled at my aunts new kitchen and the amazing woodwork my uncle has done for it. We shared some happy stories and made some great tamales. My Aunt J did most of the work by having everything prepared for us. She showed us how to fill and fold a tamale and we were in business. They taste great. We made 13 dozen so everyone got to leave with plenty. My dad however can throw down a dozen a day so we'll see how long they last. He was sitting in the living room waiting for our return. He couldn't wait to dive in.
Aunt J made booklets for us to take home that included the recipes she used for the day. Including some we didn't use. (I finally got the Mexican Wedding Cake recipe I've longed for!) It was such a kind and thoughtful touch. I'm so grateful for my recipes.
I'm hoping it's a tradition we stick with. It's so nice to see these women, these survivors, doing well and happy and laughing. They deserve so much and I'm so happy to see them finally finding joy.