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New Traditions, Old Favorites

by Guardian Staff

As Christmas nears and another year looms, you might be looking for new ways to celebrate. Or just to get those relatives out of your kitchen.

Either way, the Guardian’s got you covered. From now through New Year’s, we’ll be offering some fresh ideas for your holiday observances, and after Jan. 1, we’ll publish a resource that can help you make a real difference in your community. Let’s begin with some ideas to take you and your holiday guests through the coming weekend.

The Cooking Thing
Traditionally, an American Christmas dinner may include ham, turkey, stuffing and all the fixin’s. As you work – by choice or necessity – to prepare your family’s feast, your fondest wish might be to keep the visitors out of your “workshop” (kitchen). But some other cultures turn that logic on its head. Case in point: Christmas tamales.

In Mexico and many other parts of latin America, tamales and their various versions become a celebration food at Christmas and on New Year’s eve.

A tamale assembly line

A tamale assembly line

But eating them is only part of the fun—making them is a celebration in and of itself, a social occasion, an excuse to bring family and friends together to spend the day in the kitchen. These party-like gatherings, known as in Mexico as tamaladas, always result in a huge batch of delicious, steaming-hot tamales.

Maybe enlisting your guests to join in the kitchen fun sounds more calamitous than calming. Consider stopping by El Azador Mexican Restaurant at 1200 North Greene St. Their homemade tamales are straight out of your abuela’s (grandmother’s) kitchen. El Azador offers the most authentic traditional cooking you’re likely to find from Greenville to Mexico. Best of all, their chicken and pork tamales feature an easy-to-swallow price tag: six for $7, 12 for $13.

The Reason for the Season
As visions of hoverboards dance in the kids’ heads (sugarplums? seriously?), many of Santa’s “helpers” find themselves too hopped up on the caffeine that enabled their work to slumber once the gifts have been placed under the tree and the fat man’s gone back up the chimney.

Consider Midnight Mass.

One of the most peaceful ways to ring in Christmas morning (at the moment morning begins) Midnight Masses feature live Christmas music, sermons set around the birth of Christ, and great fellowship. They’ve been an institution in the Catholic faith for hundreds of years, dating at least to the 10th century—perhaps earlier.

Christians of all denominations frequently complain about the secularization of Christmas, and little can be done about that. But Midnight Mass is a wonderful spiritual counterpoint. Two area churches will celebrate Christ’s birth as Christmas eve becomes Christmas day:

St. Peter Catholic Church 2700 E. 4th St., Greenville

St Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother Roman Catholic Church, 3250 Dickinson Ave., Greenville

Work It Off!
Whether you go for traditional American fare or are more adventuresome, you’ll probably eat too much. When the guilt over your groundbreaking attempt to found the Christmas Cookie Diet finally catches up with you, consider catching up on your exercise.

Starting at 6:30 a.m. this Sunday (Dec. 27), the Greenville Organization of Runners (GORUN)GoRun sponsors its annual “Ultra” over at the Elm Street Gym and Park, 1058 South Elm. This free, all-day race event features 10k loops, with participants running as many (or as few) as they wish (or can tolerate), up to 50k.

Bring enough food and drink for yourself, and if possible, a dish to share (leftover tamales?). Food for sharing is kept at the start-finish line, and the races continue through 2 p.m. For more information call Tim Garris, (252) 902-7021.

Our next installment, with ideas to take you and yours happily into the new year, will publish Sunday around noon. Happy Holidays from everyone at the Greenville Guardian!

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