'Twas Nochebuena


Iler family embraces holiday favorites.

My daughters have a fondness for books. Thank goodness, since both of their parents are teachers! However, they have certain ones that are held more dear to their heart than others. When the girls were little, they had books for each holiday season, favorite authors, series books, and the popular bedtime stories.


Although the girls are older, they still adore some of the picture books we would read to them when they were little. It brings us back to the time sitting on the couch, cozy with their blankets and favorite stuffed animals. Two holiday books that bring our family together are classics.


“Twas the Night before Christmas” with an audio recording of Scott’s mom’s voice and “Twas Nochebuena” a gift from my mom to celebrate our Mexican heritage. Both grandmas gave these books to our girls many years ago. The excitement of each book reminds me of how diverse our world is and also how connected our world is.


In our own family, we have two very distinct heritages. I love to hear the stories of Scott’s ancestors who grew up on a farm in the Dakotas. They were homesteading before these words became popular. My mom’s heritage was surrounded around the Latin culture, deep rooted traditions, and hearing a mix of Spanglish when I was at my grandma’s.


I am reminded in the months of November and December, there are various holidays and heritages to celebrate. . . Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Boxing Day and more. Each holiday holds special significance to religious communities, cultures, or even nations. When I was growing up, I didn’t really know that there were so many holidays surrounding these months. I knew what we celebrated in my family and my culture.


We are so fortunate now to learn about our world at our fingertips and embrace the diversity among us.

As a parent, I wanted to find a way to educate my children on all the different holidays. I stumbled across “9 Winter Holidays Around the World” that explained the significance of each holiday.


The significance of lighting the candles for the Jewish holiday Hanukkah is “ to remember an ancient miracle in which one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in the temple.


Diwali is “one of the most popular Hindu festivals that symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.”


Kwanzaa, which means “First Fruits,” is based on ancient African harvest festivals and celebrates ideals such as family life and unity. It is celebrated from December 26 to January 1st.


Christmas . . . a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus. In many countries, the holiday focuses on church, giving gifts, and sharing the day with their families.


Three Kings Day.. . “This holiday is celebrated as the day the three wise men first saw baby Jesus and brought him gifts. In Puerto Rico, before children go to sleep on January 5, they leave a box with hay under their beds so the kings will leave good presents.”


Boxing Day- Boxing Day is a centuries’ old gift-giving day that originated in Britain. It was a custom on that day for tradesmen to collect their “Christmas boxes,” gifts of money or goods in return for reliable service all year.


New Year’s- In Japan, Omisoka (or New Year’s Eve) is the second most important holiday of the year, following New Year’s Day, the start of a new beginning. Japanese families gather for a late dinner around 11 PM, and at midnight, many make visits to a shrine or temple.


Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, or purify yourself with a New Year’s cleanse, we all have similarities. This world is made up of 7.8 billion people. We have many differences, different languages, different geography, different cultures, different religious beliefs, but if we strip down to the core of humanity. . . we have similar beliefs.

Light, goodness, unity, respect for others, and faith.

My daughters are a mixture of heritages but their blend is what unites them with so many others around the world.


Day 7:

Cafe De Olla


Ingredients:

1 cup coarsely ground French roast coffee beans (fresh grind if possible)

2 quarts of water

3 orange peel slices

4 cinnamon sticks

6 ounces of piloncillo


Chop the piloncillo into chunks (a quick 15 second microwave will make this easier). Pour 2 quarts of water into a large saucepan. Add the piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, and orange peels and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Make sure the piloncillo is fully dissolved, then turn heat down to low. Add the coffee grounds and let it heat for 5 minutes, giving it an occasional gentle stir. Pour the contents through a strainer into a vessel large enough to hold the 2 quarts of coffee. Stir gently before serving to ensure a balanced mixture. Enjoy!


Erin gives this coffee drink 5 stars! She was able to try this at a dear friend's house and was enamored with the lovely taste! It is such a great way to start a special morning!


Family Challenge: Relax and read a favorite holiday book with your loved ones.

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