By Fernanda Armendariz

It’s officially holiday season, my favorite time of year!

I have several places I call home so when the holidays come around, I get to spend time in the many “homes” that I love. I live in Austin, but my hometown is a few hours away in Mission, Texas, and Mexico is just beyond that where I also have family and several gatherings.

Growing up with Mexican traditions, Thanksgiving has never been a big family holiday. I was raised in Texas, but identify most with the Mexican culture. I embrace my upbringing by finding newer traditions to mix with more traditional ones passed down by my parents and grandparents.

For Thanksgiving, I like to spend it with loved ones by having a Friendsgiving dinner. This year, I am hosting the gathering at my apartment so the preparations are already underway. I am excited to share special memories and traditions with my friends like my mom’s famous sangria as well as other Mexican goodies that I have brought back from home. We still have the classic Thanksgiving dishes like turkey, mashed potatoes, and cornbread, but it’s a great way to bring both worlds together and add a twist to it.

This time of year brings around the best dishes — it’s one of my favorite things about the holidays. I love the variety that comes with this season, especially the sweets. When I visit my family back home in Mexico, we make tamales, pan dulce, and my grandma’s homemade gorditas. All of these foods are classic Mexican dishes; they give me comfort and makes me feel at home. I’ll head out of the city and go back to my roots surrounded by places and people I’ll never forget. When I go to Mission, I attend countless family gatherings and enjoy seeing familiar faces that I don’t see as often as I’d like.

When I’m back in Austin, I love seeing the amazing Christmas decorations throughout the city. Visiting places that showcase Christmas lights around town is what I love to do on the weekends. If I had to pick a favorite spot it would be Mozart’s Coffee Roasters. If you haven’t been to Mozart’s during the holiday season, go as soon as you can. Not only is it the perfect place for schoolwork, but it’s also a nice spot for a cup of coffee with friends. They’re known for their annual Christmas light show which includes festive music that’s sure to get you in the holiday spirit.

As a full-time student, the holidays are a great time to forget about schoolwork, exams and endless hours in class. Sometimes, the best way to enjoy this last part of the year is by doing absolutely nothing. I’m fortunate to have this moment to relax in my apartment and bundle up while binge watching the best holiday movies on Netflix and Hulu. There’s no better time for cheesy Christmas movies than in November and December.  

Even though it’s the coldest season, I feel like the warmth of the season comes from all of the joy that is shared with people you love and finding comfort in the small things.