One of the best things about Christmas are the traditions, especially the foods that we seem to get only at this time of year. For many Latino families, especially those with connections to the American Southwest, tamales are an important part of the holidays. Families gather to make piles of these delicious, spicy treats to put right at the center of the Christmas table. This is one tradition that seems like it's as much about the togetherness as it is about the food!
In Gary Soto's Too Many Tamales, Maria is helping her mother prepare a platter of tamales for their family's Christmas Eve gathering. Mom takes off her ring to knead the dough, and when she's called away, Maria can't help sliding the sparkly bit of jewelry on her own finger, just for a minute. But then the ring is forgotten, and only later does Maria realize where it must have ended up. . .
The solution Maria comes up with is pretty hilarious (and also realistic, because it's just something a kid might do!). Gary Soto's warmly funny tale is dressed up just right with paintings by Ed Martinez that capture the homey, cozy feeling of a holiday spent with family and friends.
This one might just inspire you to add a new spice to your own Christmas celebration -- it's definitely got us craving tamales!