What makes Christmas in the Tri-Cities special for me is the blending of cultures and traditions.
On Christmas Eve, my family often gathers with relatives in Mabton for a potluck, games and white elephant gift exchange.
I always look forward to my Filipino brother-in-law’s pineapple-glazed ham and my mother-in-law’s slow-simmered Mexican chili colorado wrapped in warm homemade tortillas.
We often play Lotería — a Mexican bingo game with colorful characters instead of letters and numbers. You learn a little Spanish as the night goes on.
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Another Tri-City Christmas-time favorite is Pasco’s annual Southwest-inspired luminaria, featuring thousands of paper bags flickering with candles that line the sidewalks.
My dad loved to set out his own sand-filled bags and candles, giving our home a magical glow even when we were the only house on the block.
And in recent years my holiday to-do list includes making tamales.
The traditional Mexican corn-based comfort food is a time-intensive proposition — especially for other families who sell them by the dozen for holiday spending money.
For me, it’s more about the time spent with friends and family than the meal that comes at the end. Making tamales is not like cooking just any holiday dish. It’s a daylong activity, done assembly-line style.
Prep work starts the day before, cooking the pork or chicken for hours in the slow cooker with Mexican spices.
The next day, each moistened corn husk is smeared with a dollop of cornmeal dough called masa, handed to the next person to add a layer of shredded meat, then onto another to fold and layer in a steamer to cook.
It’s a messy process but with lots of time to laugh and visit. That’s really the best part of the holidays.
Laurie Williams, Executive Editor