Celebrate Christmas - Texas Style
Dec. 21, 2015 at midnight
When most people think of Christmas, images of snow-clad Christmas trees and families wrapped up in warm Christmas sweaters spring to mind. But that’s not how Christmas is celebrated in Texas. Here, everything is a little bit different. Here, Christmas is celebrated Texas style.
Tamales almost always make an appearance at least once, although these are usually eaten on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas day. While many people order their tamales in, others prefer to make them at home, an event known as the tamalada. Preparing tamales at home is a fairly labor-intensive event, but for many it's a tradition that Christmas Eve wouldn't be the same without.
In 2009, the Huffington Post published the Bush family’s Christmas menu which gives a good insight into what some Texans eat for Christmas dinner. The menu consisted of roast turkey with cornbread dressing, green beans, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, spinach salad, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce and rolls. For dessert there was both pumpkin pie and pecan pie.
But although that’s what the Bushes ate that year, that isn’t necessarily what all Texans eat for Christmas dinner. Some like a traditional roast turkey dinner, while for others Christmas isn’t Christmas unless that turkey is deep-fried. Then there’s BBQ, which is a staple of Texan cuisine throughout the year including Christmas day. Ribs and steaks are both BBQ favorites, while for others the favorite is smoked ham. It isn't what most many Americans would think of as a traditional Christmas dinner, but this is what's traditional for Texans.
While a Texan Christmas playlist will include favorites like "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" and "All I Want for Christmas is You", songs like "White Christmas” or “Winter Wonderland” don't tend to get played quite as much. These songs just don’t make a lot of sense to folk that eat their Christmas dinner in shorts and a t-shirt. Thankfully there are a few country music alternatives. Kenny Chesney’s “All I want for Christmas is a real good tan” or Alan Jackson and The Chipmunks’ “Santa’s gonna come in a pickup truck” are two fun choices that can be mixed into the playlist, and are sure to go down well at any Texan Christmas gathering.
Even homes are decorated differently in Texas. For starters, the trees are typically bigger. This is Texas after all, everything is bigger here. The tree is then decorated with an assortment of Christmas ornaments that are unique to Texas. Typically it includes carvings of the state, the Texas flag, cowboy boots, and armadillos.
In terms of Christmas lights, the more the merrier applies. Some neighborhoods, like Deerfield in Plano, have contests for the best decorated home and offer thousands of dollars in prize money to the winner. For others, the prize is being able to share their love of their favorite Disney movie through the magic of a Christmas light show.
Then there's a Christmas wreath which isn't made from holly and everygreen, but barbed wire instead.
Christmas is about family. For Texans that means sitting on the porch rocking chair and catching up with family and neighbors. It means picking up grandma from her house and taking her for a drive around to town to show her the Christmas lights. It means meeting up with old friends and watching the boat parades together, or sitting around a campfire in the yard, telling stories, and roasting s'mores.
Texas is a whole other country. It has its own foods, customs, and traditions and there's no better time than Christmas to celebrate that identity.