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4 Tips to Support Multicultural Families at the Holidays


In our little home lives a multicultural family. When it comes to holidays, we have always been intentional about merging traditions and creating our own festivities for our kids and ourselves. Billy brings his Guatemalan favorites, and I include my family's US traditions. 

But when we celebrate with our extended families, we know they do not need to accommodate our fusion traditions. As I’ve been preparing for this year, though, I realize how much our family has adopted and supported our holiday multiculturalism. I am so grateful for family that has welcomed our cross-cultural marriage. 

I know I lucked out in the family department (on both sides). Except for one year, I think we have always celebrated Christmas in the States, and our family has enthusiastically embraced our multiculturalism. Here are a few ways we have felt supported and loved by our extended family at the holidays.

Let the games begin!


Word games can be a little more challenging for someone with English as a second language, and games relying on US pop culture references can present a similar challenge for folks who’ve immigrated. We like to play games when we’re all together. So my family graciously keeps their eyes open for new number-based games or others that we can all enjoy. (Here are some of our favorites!)

Trying new foods


We typically find tamales for our Nochebuena celebration on Christmas Eve. I have been so blessed by my family jumping in and trying the new food with us. The first year, I remember my sister’s husband looking at dinner and saying, “I’ve never had a tamale before. This will be interesting!” He dove right in. 

Incorporate traditions


My mom has always been super thoughtful and taken note of the Guatemalan elements we like to include in the festivities. She is always the one who remembers to buy sparklers, which is our city-approved substitute for Guatemalan firecrackers. 

Include in-laws


Latino culture tends to be a little more far-reaching in their definition of family, including everyone’s in-laws as part of the group. I love that. After my in-laws were repeatedly denied visas to come visit us here in the States, my parents applied for their passports and joined us for our one Christmas in Guatemala. It was such a cool chance to introduce our parents to each other and celebrate the holidays all together. 

I often write about how cross-cultural marriage affects me and Billy and our kids, but I also recognize that we did not marry in a vacuum. (That sounds weird… and dusty.) It’s such a blessing to experience the ways parents and grandparents and siblings and cousins and everyone has loved us and the uniquenesses we bring to our families. I hope our experiences help your extended family celebrate multicultural traditions together!

What are traditions you appreciate in your family celebrations?

3 comments

  1. Brian found a game called Dixit a few years back. It can be as culturally relevant or not as you want. You can make it relevant to your family with your clues. It's pretty fun!

    You would think having lived in my 35% Hispanic valley now since junior high I would have had tamales, but somehow I managed to miss them until just the last 2 years. There is a little Mexican tienda on our way home that sells them. Mmmm, insta lunch!

    And yes, you totally don't marry in a vacuum! I never realized that, but I'm so thankful for my in-laws! Hello, Christmas vacation 2 years ago with my entire family and the in-laws tagging along! Plus they always come up for Thanksgiving... which is hosted at my parent's house! I love it!

    (PS. How did you make the default blogger header disappear from the top of your blog?)

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  2. Hey Krista! I will definitely have to check out Dixit. And I'm glad you've discovered tamales. :)

    As far as my header, I think the newer version of the template designer has a place that asks if you want it. But when I was designing it, I just googled how to remove it in the HTML part, if you're familiar with doing that.

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  3. Sweet thanks, I'll have to look that up. I'm semi familiar with the HTML stuff if I have directions!

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