Somehow December really caught me by surprise this year, and so this morning I was frantically running around town trying to finish up all the things that I should have done months ago. Printing out the pictures for the cards at Wal-mart with every other housewife in this town (it was packed at the photo center this morning), getting stamps, getting groceries, getting stressed out, the usual.
At the commissary lately they have these Biscoff cookies, and today on the drive home (yes, I ate them in the car) I realized why I like them so much. They taste exactly like the Dutch windmill cookies that I love from back home. They don’t have almonds on them, but the cookie itself tastes very similar. The Dutch cookie is called a Speculaas (I looked it up, wiki says that they are a Christmas thing but the ones I remember are windmills).
It made me think about what a peculiar mix of culture and tradition I embrace. For several years now I have made a different Dutch cookie called Jan Hagel every year, the recipe came from my Aunt. Hagel is nothing more than chocolate sprinkles, but I prefer the Dutch variety. I have also attempted to make Banket in years past, another Dutch Christmas specialty, an almond filled pastry. Entirely too labor intensive for me, but it is good.
My dh, while also of Dutch descent, grew up in South America, so you will hear him talk about buñelos. I also love the tradition of Las Posadas (the Christmas procession of the Holy Family), I was just looking at a children’s book about it at the bookstore the other day. Then again, I’m also on the hunt for a good book about Sinterklaas. When the dutchkid is old enough we will probably do the putting out of a shoe on your doorstep for Sinterklaas to put candy in (preferably a wooden one, you know).
I tend to identify more with the Dutch things than Mexican ones, mostly because of where I grew up being primarily Dutch, so those things were more emphasized. It would probably disappoint my dad, who always drilled us to be proud of being Mexican. He doesn’t have too much to worry about, I also plan to celebrate Día de los Muertos, (sort of a macabre Mexican Halloween) which makes my dh crazy (“You pagan!”). I doubt my siblings identify as much with these varied traditions. I happen to think they’re interesting. I think I emphasize it in my life now because I miss the things about where I grew up. The strange amalgamation of culture is what makes me, ME. Holiday traditions are what make for great memories in my book. The dutchkid will just have plenty to choose from.