Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas in Santa Fe

We started Christmas around 5:30 PM on the 24th, with chipotle corn soup and pork sliders for a quick pick-up supper to sustain us through an arduous evening. Then we filled the family flasks ({ahem} we don't actually use these except on Christmas Eve, but everybody has one, to be filled with the evening's choice of beverage. Laura's therefore was full of Alabama Slammer (a hideous concoction made of Southern Comfort, Amaretto, Sloe Gin and Orange Juice), Sam had Edradour, Doug and Iain (Jenny’s boyfriend from Edinburgh) both opted for cognac with a splash of B&B (Jenny chose to nip off Iain's flask), and I _had_ been intending to go with Bailey's Irish Cream (on grounds both that I like the stuff, and that it's a good deal less alcoholic than the straight stuff), but since Iain at this point presented me with my Christmas present--a Very Special bottling of Laphroaig (reputed to be from the notorious cask in which one of the brewmasters drowned, but they bottled it anyway)--I really had no choice)--and set out for Canyon Road.

This is a very steep road, lined with art galleries on both sides, about a mile long. And on Christmas Eve, all the galleries festoon their premises with millions (literally) of farolitos (aka luminarias--paper bags with lighted votive candles inside), lighted crimson ristras (clusters of hanging dried chili peppers--though the ones meant for display are often red chili-shaped lights), etc. The whole town (and not a few surrounding settlements) turns out to walk up and down the road, pausing to sing Christmas carols wherever one is breaking out (the occasion is an invitation to anyone who thinks they can play a musical instrument; they stake out a street corner and haul out the old trombone, accordion, fiddle, or ocarina and have a bash at “Old King Wenceslaus”) or--if a kilt-wearer (Doug and Iain both went in full kit) to warm one's knees (or dangly bits, as the case may be) over one of the bonfires lit here and there along the street. All very sociable, especially after a few nips, and you get to see your fellow man attired in Just About Anything you can imagine, and quite a few things you wouldn't dream about after a late lobster supper with horseradish.

On from this to church--where you want to show up when the doors open at 10:30 PM, because it's your only chance to get a seat, the midnight services at the Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi being one of the Sights of Christmas in Santa Fe, and thus heavily patronized. Random carol-singing 'til 11:00, then the more formal "Lessons and Carols," featuring readings from Isaiah, interspersed with a longish cantata by Vivaldi and few audience-participation numbers to keep everyone from falling asleep before Mass proper gets underway at (logically enough) midnight.

Midnight Mass is normally a much snazzier production than the ordinary Mass, even though the structure of the proceedings is exactly the same. More music, assorted processions, celebrated by the bishop (complete with mitre and staff), etc., though. This one featured bilingual music (alternating verses and/or phrases in English and Spanish--often switching with bewildering rapidity), the Las Posadas procession (when the santos peregrines (the “traveling saints”) who have been going house to house for the last nine days, seeking a place for the baby Jesus to be born, finally come rejoicing into the church and everyone sings, "Vamos Todos a Belen" (Come Everyone to Bethlehem--which we always find funny, because my father was in fact born in a tiny town a hundred miles south of here, called Belen), and a Native American dance (done by Laguna Indians from the San Juan Pueblo, in traditional dress and solemnly waving fans of turkey feathers, while drumming and chanting down the center aisle) for the offertory (they circled the altar, and then the bishop, who seemed somewhat startled), incense, small orchestra (with more kettle drums than you could shake a stick at. You want kettle drums for something as dramatic as Christmas), choir, etc.

Came home under starry skies (very warm here--it was shirtsleeve weather outside today; the boys and Doug were playing football in the street, egged on my Jenny and Laura) and had brownies and milk, then everyone (other than Santa {yawn}) retired. I retired too, around 3 AM, stockings all filled and the dogs kept from investigating them (just to be safe, I put the package of smoke kangaroo jerky up on the mantel).

Was rousted at 8 AM to come and open presents (see attached; the plate was the hand-made gift of Elder Daughter), then puttered pleasantly and made lunch--machaca tacos, enchiladas and tamales, all washed down by quantities of Mexican beer. Spent a pleasant afternoon napping, reading, and nibbling, watching everybody watch football, and trying to induce my new iPad to work (“intuitive,” my left foot. Technology is one of the things bad language was intended for. Sufficient poking and muttering, though, and I Have Prevailed). Leftover enchiladas, a handful of Dutch chocolate mints, and a sense of quiet bliss reigns.

It was a wonderful Christmas, and I hope all of yours were likewise!

(Oh, the hat? It's supposed to be a Christmas tree, though I'm told I resembled the Queen of the Universe in it.)


  1. Merry Christmas Diana! :)

    You have had a lovely weather there, here in north we had olmost -30 celsius on Christmas Eve, though today just about -10 so finally we can go out (n the dog) to get some daylight :)
    Again, Merry Christmas.

  2. Native Americans dancing down the aisle to drums!?... That is one mass I would go to willingly! Especially after s few drinks! Sounds you had a lovely Xmas, glad to hear it. Cute pjs!! And yes, I agree.. You definitely look like queen of the universe with that hat! LoL

  3. Sounds like a lot of fun. Of course, here west of Atlanta, we had our first white Christmas since 1888. With over two inches on the ground and enough ice to make it treacherous, we're trying to stay in today. Enjoy the warm. ; )

  4. Men in kilts, Mexican food and native American dance...only in America! What fun!

    Nothing quite as interesting here but still wonderful to have the year will be our first Christmas with our first grand baby (expected July, 2011). Can't wait!

    Love the purple jammies, they look warm and cozy.

    Have a safe and blessed New Year! CHEERS!

    Bright Blessings,

  5. The pics are great, thanks for that.
    It's good to hear that you had a nice Christmas.

  6. The hat looks a bit like something from a Dr. Seuss story-possibly titled "If I ran the Universe". Happy Holidays to all.

  7. It's not shirtsleeve weather here in S.E Tennessee! We had our first white Christmas since 93. BEAUTIFUL snowfall most of the day yesterday!! The sun is shining and icicles are growing on the eaves

    Happy Holidays!

  8. No white Christmas but we are having a blizzard today in New Jersey. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Looking forward to your next excerpt. I enjoy them very much.
    - Kathy

  9. Dear Diana,

    Thank you for the photos and description of the Canyon Road walk. What a memorable Christmas, especially the Midnight Mass.

    So glad your holiday was merry and blissful...and yes, you ARE the queen of the Universe. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise ;-)

    Blessings to you all.


  10. I love family time! You have a lovely family and very interestig traditions. We serve finger foods on Christmas eve and open one or two gifts. We invite the husbands parents too. Christmas morning we have a casserole made of eggs, sausage and spices (not hot) and biscuits. The rest of the day is spent playing with our gifts, watching movies or napping. I am a nurse and usually have to work one of the days. This year I had both Christmas Eve and day off. It has been wonderful. Happy New Year!

  11. Feliz Navidad, Diana and family. What a good looking group! No fair you still look 20 years old.


  12. Sounds like a great time was had by all. Did you sing the traditional duck carol?

    We've had a houseful of refrigerator marauders, some related some not, drifting in and out of the house for days.

    No end in sight. Send groceries.

    I also got an iPad but it keeps digging its heels in and insists I'm missing a SIM card, whatever that is. Now I have to brave the mall and the Apple store to find out what that is so I can get my promised apps. I am hopeful.

    Cheers, and a happy New Year! (It's fun having "the kids" home again, isn't it? Mine move back in for the week. It's great!)


  13. Merry Christmas to all! We here in PA in had a wonderful Christmas snow and all!!!!

  14. Wow, and I thought it was only me that thinks my two weenie dogs should have angel wings! Sounds like you had a great Christmas Diana, here in Kentucky, we had our first white Christmas in 17 years! It has been beautiful, the snow, but, it can go away now, I've had enough!

  15. San Juan Pueblo is now called Ohkay Owingeh. Not sure about the dancers- but there is a Laguna Pueblo

  16. Dear Anonymous--

    Thank you! I think they must be different pueblos. I just recall from my childhood in Flagstaff during Pow-Wow, that you'd always see a group whose sign said

    San Juan

    Most likely, they meant that the group had dancers from both pueblos, but I never realized that.


  17. Merry Christmas to you Diana! I'm longing for the spring here... It's dark outside and cold and we have a lots of snow...

  18. You really got me reminiscing about the Flagstaff Pow-Wows! Our entire family, numbering in 20-30 members, used to go there and camp for 3 days or so and watch the rodeo, the dances and attend the carnival that was always there. We always had fun and hated it when Flagstaff stopped having them. I especially remember the Aztec dancers with their feathered headdresses.

    Thanks for that! Happy New Year!


  19. Hi Diana,

    Just a question, is it coincedence that you have a Jenny and an Iain in your family ?

    Here is Australia we have suffered 38 degrees and 40 degree weather Christmas and Boxing Day !! I have never seen snow but it sounds lovely right now.
    Nice to hear everyone had a great Christmas

    Amy from Australia

  20. Mmmmmm, Edradour. :-)

    Merry, merry and a happy New Year!


  21. Dear Anonymous--

    Yes, it's a coincidence. {g} Iain's a very recent addition, for one thing.


  22. Diana I think you will love your IPad. I've had one since April and love it, it's very handy for travel. I have all your books on it so I can have them with me when ever I need a Jamie and Clair fix. Merry Christmas and healthy prosperous New Year's.

    Debbie. Canada

  23. This was a lovely post. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  24. Dear Diana

    It sounds as f you had a wonderful Christmas , having multiple cultures always makes every thing more fun and interesting.

    Great photos, love the kilts. I hope to take a trip to Scotland next year.

    I hope you have a fabulous and prosperous New Year.

    Very Cold


  25. Now that is an event filled Christmas Eve and you all look like you had a wonderful time! Nice touch to end it with midnight mass, although I haven't been to one in many years. My family and extended family has had a Christmas Eve party every year, without fail, for the past 70 or 60 years (depending on who is trying to remember when it started). A few times, maybe two, I have managed to leave in time to go to midnight mass, but it is almost always Christmas day for me.

  26. Ummmm, men in kilts playing football on Christmas that would be a grand tradition!

  27. Diana,
    Thank you for sharing your traditions. It's always interesting hearing about how people celebrate Christmas in other parts of the country. Yours is very different from what I grew up with in the Midwest (where food is much more prominently featured, making it not nearly as much fun for the women). Your daughters are lovely and it looks like at least one of them has your husband's coloring? (beautiful auburn hair, and my goodness, gorgeous skin and a fantastic bosom--I say that with all due respect, being a married heterosexual woman. Not trying to be weird creepy person {g}). Anyway, my point is you have a handsome family. Incidentally, who got the Kangaroo smoked jerky? And more importantly, did they like it? Have to 2nd the notion of making a tradition out of men playing football in kilts! Happy Holidays!

  28. Dear HistoryDoc--

    Both the girls luckily got Doug's coloring--you can't see Laura's abundant, curly strawberry-blond hair there, but she's got both that, the fair skin and the green eyes.

    The kangaroo jerky was for my enormous son, who inherited my skin tone and a few other features--though the resemblance isn't striking unless we both smile. {g}


  29. Dear Diana;
    Beautiful family! Great smiles! I might send my children to you for a crash course on proper picture smiles :)

  30. Hi Diana!
    Glad to hear that your Christmas was Jolly, Merry and bright. Not to mention that the ipad decided to be kind to you. I just wanted to get some important information off my chest. I've found Brianna. If you're not immediately familiar with her, Google (or Bing) "Blake Lively". She's the epitome of how I pictured Brianna. I've been seeing her picture next to every checkout stand this holiday season. Blessings, Cheers, and all things good to you and yours!

  31. Dear Diana, thanks for your xmas-report. It´s nice to hear, you had a great xmas. And my daughter loves your hat :-)

    Wishing you all the best for 2011. Can´t wait doing new familiytrees for your story :-)

    Greatings from Germany


  32. Happy Hogmanay Diana!! I hope 2011 is filled with much literary inspiration and health and happiness for you and your family!

  33. A Blessed Christmas and New Year to you, Diana! The Central Belt of Scotland had a white one, but only because it was leftover from the whole month before. They tell me that it was the worst one for over 40 years. All I could think about was how Jamie and his men would have handled a winter like this one!

  34. You mean you're not the Queen of the Universe? *g* What a fantastic Christmas, Mass sounds beautiful!

    I have a feeling the doggie plate was your favorite gift! :)


  35. I hope you come to LOVE your iPad!!!! I got one for my birthday back in August and it was by far the BEST gift I could have ever receive!!!!! I am using it now! :D
    Happy New Year and Thank YOU so much for keeping us all entertained with your stories!

  36. Merry Christmas Diana! How did your knee hold up to all of that walking? re-read Echo last week on my new Kindle! Couldn't believe how fast I could adapt to an e-reader. What oh what is the rest of the writing in Frank's letter to Brianna? What did he know? Happy New Year! Mary (AEIOU)

  37. Dear Anonymous--

    The knee's great, thanks for asking! I walk five miles most days--and try to do half an hour on a stationary bike 3 days a week, just to keep the joint loose.

    Love e-readers, myself--or at least the Kindle and the iPad; couldn't say about Nooks, etc., not having used them. Not that this seems to put a dent in the number of books that flood into the house...


  38. My son and husband love the challenging double diamond trails of Taos Ski Valley and we have celebrated many, many Christmases and new years at Santa Fe and Taos so I know a bit of the traditions you are talking about.
    This past holiday season we just couldn't make it to NM and I certainly missed it! Looking forward to going at the end of this year though.

    I wish you a wonderful New Year, and may it bring you every possible good thing: health, happiness and wealth with many more years to spend it. Cheers!!!

    Ps. Love the ceramic plate - Got 2 mini-Dachshunds myself!

  39. Thanks for posting the pic!

  40. Hi Diana - Glad to hear you had a nice Christmas. I know you have a policy about fan fiction, but I have to share that my husband drew a short parody of The Exile, in stick figures, on the inside cover of my Christmas card, which definitely added some humor to my day!

  41. Dear jkm--

    Creativity for private consumption is Totally Fine. {g}


  42. Hello Diana - I am a bit late but would like to wish you and your family all the best for the new year. Living in Northern Ontario, I can't imagine going out on Christmas Eve without a goose down coat and perhaps one day will venture far enough south during the Yuletide season to experience it myself. Looks like you all had a great Christmas! Thanks for posting your pictures.
    Take care - Louise

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