The holidays are unlike anything you'll ever experience at a Hispanic home. The sounds of blasting music as bachata, merengue and salsa fill the room, the loud shuffle of dominoes being mixed around on the kitchen table, the aroma of never-ending food coming out of the kitchen.
Hispanic families are known for throwing big gatherings and going late into the night. Now, add a holiday party, and we pull out all the stops.
First, and most importantly, the food.
At a holiday dinner with us Hispanics, you can guarantee there will be a huge pernil, every type of rice cooked in every type of way, empanadas, chicken, multiple styles of potato and macaroni salads and something with guava.
And, if there is one thing a Hispanic woman knows, it's how to cook! It is guaranteed that the food will be bursting with flavor and seasoning; it's enough to make your mouth instantly water as you smell all of the mixing aromas in the room.
Alcohol is for sure going to accompany the food. What's a party without some ice cold Coronas from the fridge or a delicious glass of coquito (kind of like an eggnog drink with a lot more alcohol)?
Music is the next most important part for us. Hispanics don't just love music; we practically live it. It is the one thing that can unite people from different cultures.
Our music transports us to when we were little kids thinking we were invincible and knew everything. The three biggest genres that'll be vibrating through the walls are Merengue, Bachata and Salsa.
These three genres are the only things you need to get everyone up from their food comas and crowd on the dance floor, showing off their moves.
The dance floor is not optional either. There is no politely declining tio's extended hand or ignoring tia when she says "mi hija, dance!" Your female cousins will also be pushing you on the crowded dance floor and everyone will make sure you have space to bust out an authentic merengue or a hot salsa.
Of course, it goes without saying that family is number one for us. Hispanic families, if they are anything like mine, are a tight-knit group. These dinners are a chance for everyone to get together. Whether it be to listen to your grandparents reminisce about their childhood, gather up your cousins to talk about the crazy nights out we had this weekend or who we are dating now or to gossip about the family members not present--these dinners give us a chance to catch up.
This definitely means that, even though we all love each other and are excited to see each other, craziness will happen. Whether it be your tias all coming together in the kitchen to talk about who said what while they were drunk or who is sleeping with whom or your tios discussing pretty much every controversial topic like they are experts on it while drinking--something crazy and embarrassing will for sure happen.
Stories of how when you were a little kid and you were trying to impress your friends or this girl you've been trying to hook up with and fail miserably with will be shared.
Embarrassing pictures will be shown.
Nobody is off limits and nothing is too far.
I could go on for hours describing a Hispanic holiday dinner. It is completely dysfunctional and absolutely the best part of the holidays.
There is no shortage of entertainment.
You could watch your grandparents duke it out through their intense dominoes game, your tias and tios turning the dance floor into "Dancing with the Stars" or stuff your face with food and alcohol.
Whatever you end up doing, just make sure to prepare for a long night. When we party, we party for a long time.