Okay, readers – this is my Christmas card! Enjoy!

Writing’s been a little blocked the last couple of weeks. On December 20 our Mom Rosemary died, age 99, after a very good life, but then a gradual and what must have been for her, heartbreaking decline. So although we were relieved to see her at rest and at peace, Christmas was, well, subdued.

In the two weeks we spent going back and forth to her bedside (and two of my sisters spent at her bedside) a lot of pre-Christmas stuff just didn’t happen, including blogging. Can’t complain that it didn’t snow, and that temperatures have been mercifully mild, but there’s also been a shortage of sparkly frosty scenes. Then I thought, what better seasonal images than those below?

Tamales are traditional Christmas fare in Northern Mexico, for logical reasons. Corn has always been associated with divinity in this culture, and the wrapped husks recall the swaddled Christ Child. When Fall ends, the hogs have been butchered, the lard rendered, the corn processed with lime into tender masa flour, the chiles harvested and dried and the husks cleaned and sorted.

Then, tamales are best made in a gathering, and the hours of steaming allow for a perfect warm, relaxing visit. Thank you, Steve and Alaina, for your beautiful efficient kitchen, your bright home, and a friendship that begs to be shared over good food.

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