Audrey Bellis

Traditions with my Catholic mom

My mom might not be the Jewish parent, but in our family, she’s the keeper of the traditions.

Every year for Hanukkah she brings down my Great-Grandma Rose’s menorah.

Every year she buys the candles.

Every year she makes sure we light them each night. Together. As a family.

Tradition is important in our family. Maybe it’s because my mom’s family are immigrants and traditions keep our core together. Maybe its because my dad came from a divorced family and traditions force us to not forget why we need each other. But growing up for us (my sister and I), it meant we had dinner together. Every night. As a unit. My dad is in charge of cooking for the major holidays, my mom bakes the sweets, and I take charge of decorating. Traditions are the center of our lives.

Every year (in keeping with tradition) my mom buys us for Hanukkah-

Photo courtesy of Audrey Bellis
Photo courtesy of Audrey Bellis

tickets to see Mariachi Sol De Mexico’s Christmas show. This tradition is just for the two of us. Each year, she and I get dressed up and do this together. We bond in the way moms and daughters are meant to.

In light of Hanukkah coming so early this year, we had to wait a few weeks to redeem the present but this past weekend we finally did.

I love that we do this together. In this show, I get to experience her traditions that she celebrated growing up in Mexico. Through the narrative of the Mariachi, I get to re-live what it must have been like for her to celebrate La Virgen de Guadalupe festival and Las Posadas.

This year the Mariachi also paid homage to “La Época de oro del cine Mexicano” (The golden age of Mexican Cinema) with famous songs from the black and white movies by Jorge Negrete and José Alfredo Jiménez. These movies are from my grandmother’s generation. My mom grew up on these movies and songs. Through her, so did I.

Just as she makes my dad’s Jewish traditions “our” traditions as a family, “her” traditions are also “our” traditions. Together, our interfaith family makes our normal the best one we know, because its the only one we know.

I didn’t always appreciate these traditions or what they meant. Now that I’m older, I know how much it hurts to lose some of the ones I thought I’d continue to keep forever. I know how hard it can be to create new ones that won’t last because they weren’t as important to the people they were meant to be shared with. I know the joy when we sacrifice to come together even when we think no one else cares.

One day I’ll be the keeper of traditions like my mom. One day it will be my job to prepare for the holidays, the family dinners, and the religious occasions. Until then, I will do my best to participate in them as fully as I can because this is all we have… each other.

About the Author
When Audrey Bellis isn't curating community for StartUpDTLA, or solving Downtown LA's office space problem at Grid110, she can be found Urban Exploring as a Transit Enthusiast. Often memorable.