My Holiday Traditions: Tamales, Baby Jesus and Santa!

This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Sears and Latina Bloggers Connect.
I am so thankful to have only wonderful memories of the holidays. As a kid you mostly look forward to the presents, but the gifts aren't what last. The memories are what last a lifetime. I feel so blessed to be able to remember and share some of my fondest memories with you all, starting with one of my favorite holiday traditions: shopping for that special dress just for Christmas. A few days before Christmas, my mom would take me and my sister to Sears to buy our special Christmas dress, tights, and shiny new shoes. Going to Sears is a tradition, since my Grandpa Lara worked there for more than 50 years, Sears was also where mi abuelita would take my mother and her siblings as children. 
Each year of my childhood, Christmas Eve was spent with my Mother's side of the family, my grandparents, many aunts and uncles and about 20 cousins. The house would burst with the laughter only cousins could share, the smell of my grandmas tamales, and the alcohol induced adult conversations that as a child, made no sense whatsoever. At 11:45 p.m on Christmas Eve, one of the older cousins would pass around a ceramic baby Jesus doll for all of us to kiss. I don't know the origin of this tradition of ours, but it is still alive. All these years later, our children now kiss baby Jesus before any presents are opened. 
Christmas morning was spent with just our immediate family and since I was the baby of the family, I would wake everyone up shouting "Santa was here!" The rest of Christmas Day was spent with my Dad's side of the family complete with another set of traditions. After dinner all the kids would gather around the Christmas tree and sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and just as we were finishing up Jingle Bells, Santa would come bursting through the door and everyone would take turns sitting on Santa's lap and taking pictures. 
I love that for the most part our family still gets together to spend this special time together. Although some have grown and gone down their own path, it seems that Christmas always brings us back together and now the next generation, our children, are making their own memories. Each family has their own traditions that they hold close to their heart. The article How My Latino Family Does Christmas Differently, talks about the different ways this particular multi-cultural family celebrates and how they have adapted over time.

Let's talk Christmas, tell me: 
What traditions do you hold close to your heart? What traditions have been passed down from past generations? What is your favorite holiday memory? 

A New Holiday Tradition #LAZooLights

Disclosure: My family was provided media passes to preview #LAZooLights. All opinions and photos are 100% mine.
We are proud members of the L.A. Zoo and it is one of our favorite places to visit all year round. During the holiday season you can visit the L.A. Zoo and take the kiddos to see real live reindeer and Santa Claus on select days during Reindeer Romp. And this year the L.A. Zoo has an all-new holiday light experience that combines spectacular sets and lighting design with the enchanting environment of the L.A. Zoo. Stroll through areas of the Zoo that are transformed into a fantastical wonderland populated by glowing light animals. View real reindeer, visit with Santa (on select dates), and enjoy holiday treats and goodies, all under the stars. It’s a truly unique holiday experience that the whole family will cherish. 

 Our first stop was, as it always is, Reggie the Alligator. The lighting everywhere in the zoo from the entrance on is just breathtaking. 
So much of the L.A. Zoo is transformed like you've never seen it before. The artistry in the lighting and decorations provide such a unique experience. For the best guest experience, ticket times are staggered. When purchasing tickets, you’ll select a date and time – 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 or 9:00pm.
Admission Rates
Adults (ages 13+): $13*
Children (ages 2-12): $11*
Under 2: Free
GLAZA Member Discount: $1 off with promo code**
Group Rate (15-49 guests): $11/person*

Online-Only Early Bird Special

$8 Per Person*
For attendance Nov 28 – Dec 11
(Children under 2 free)

*Price does not include online convenience fee

**GLAZA Members receive their promo code for online purchases Dec 12-Jan 4 via email. If you are a Member and haven’t received yours, call 323-644-4747.

Admission for this all-ages evening program is separate from daytime general Zoo admission. No live animals other than reindeer will be on display during event times.
If you are looking for a fun night out for you and the family, L.A. Zoo Lights is the perfect time to get bundled up, walk around looking at the beautiful lighting, and have some warm holiday treats like hot chocolate and warm churros. 

Make sure to like the L.A. Zoo on Facebook and Follow on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date on the happenings.