I remember we would go to my Abuelos(grandparents) apartment, we would all be dressed up. We would bring food , drinks and gifts. All my family members would show up and we would begin eating. Close to 11pm we would all leave and head to midnight mass. Once that was done we would rush home to open our regalos (gifts). Those memories have stayed with me forever and I wanted to the same with my own familia.
Our Noche Buena celebration starts a couple days before with making tamales. Not the Mexican version but the Guatemalan version. Guatemalan tamales start off with banana leaves then you add your red masa. You can add different raw meats then you would put regular masa. Then you top it with potatoes,carrots,and olives. You finish wrapping it in the banana leaf and then wrap it in parchment paper, you get string to tie it off. Once that is done you add the whole tamales to boiling water. When it is time to eat on Noche Buena you are unwrapping a delicious meal.
When the food is prepared, the familia and I get dressed to head to a church service. I don’t put my kids thru having to attend a midnight service. We attend Christmas Eve service in the late afternoon. As a familia we enjoy attending service especially a Christmas Eve one.
When we are done opening gifts, one of the gifts is always an ornament representing what that kid had did for the year)or what stuck out as memorable). And we got to bed in our Christmas jammies.