I have lived in the southwest all my life (-7). Every year on christmas eve we would have tamales. Family tradition. My family never makes tamales though, it was always something you went to the local Mexican market for. I love tamales, and would rather have them more than once a year. It is hard to find a good vegetarian tamale. Usually you have to live with corn and green chili, or cheese.
I have had a cookbook with a tamale recipe that I have been meaning to try for a long time, but in my mind all I can remember is everyone saying how hard it was, so I kept putting it off.
I suppose if you are making more than a dozen it would be a lot of work, but we made a dozen, and it was fun and easy. They even turned out right, and after a long steam were beautiful pockets of black bean, green chili and cheese goodness.