Revisiting the Ghosts of Christmas Past

I wrote this post in 2013 when we were living in Taos, New Mexico. It’s still a good read and I’ve added a new ending.

Ah, Christmas: one holiday, so many emotions and circumstances. Happy Christmas. Sad Christmas. Rich Christmas. Poor Christmas. Stressful. Carefree. Lonely. Crowded. Weird Christmas.

I liked the ones we spend with our large family. Great food and laughs, gifts, and even one year, fireworks one daughter bought along the way from her home in the South.

We had a freshly cut tree with ornaments, many of them made by the kids. Why was one son’s Santa wearing gray and yellow? Because the red felt was already taken. Why did another son’s wooden Santa have a black, bandit’s mask? Just because.

I remember the Christmas after Hank was hurt on a  job site a few months before. He fell 18 feet onto his shoulder because someone didn’t nail a board in place. He couldn’t work. The people who hired him as a subcontractor wouldn’t pay him while he was hurt.

After all those years staying home with six kids, I found a one-year teaching job. We kept things going with a starting teacher’s pay.

It was close to the holiday when we came home with the kids. A large cardboard box was on our doorstep. It contained food and an envelope with $70 in cash.

We were stunned.

We asked around but no one would admit to it. The kind deed has not been forgotten.

So what will we do this year? We live thousands of miles from the people who mean the most to us. (One daughter did visit for a few days — thank you — and we’ve had family come in previous years.) And with early deadlines at work for the holidays, it is too difficult to get away.

But Christmas in Taos is interesting, what with our three cultures. Think luminarias — we call them farolitos in Taos — along the parapets of buildings and in yards.

We have gone to the Pueblo on Christmas Eve to watch the lighting of tall bonfires and the procession for the Virgin Mary, and then to the Taos Inn for holiday cheer. This year we will have Christmas dinner with friends with the usual fixings of del norte — tamales and green chile posole stew. We don’t have a tree but a scene with miniature trees, lights and pine cones I created on the window sills in the great room.

We will call the kids and my parents that day. We will tell them we miss them and wish we were there for Christmas.

That was then and this is now. Our family has changed. My father is no longer with us. We now have two grandchildren. And Hank and I live in Western Massachusetts. To be honest, except for a swag on the front door, I didn’t decorate this year but I made lots and lots of cookies to share.

We will be spending Christmas Eve and Day at our daughter Emily’s house near Boston. Four of our six kids will be there plus our granddaughters. Our son-in-law’s family will join us. We will eat, drink and make merry. Happy holidays.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: That’s Hank and I at our son Nate’s house on our first Christmas on the year we returned to Western Massachusetts.