Throwback Thursday Christmas story for your reading pleasure! Originally posted December 17, 2008.
I haven’t exactly had the holiday spirit in me lately. Usually by this time I have my tree up and decorated, all the presents purchased and wrapped and all my baking complete. Things are a little crazy for me right now, but I think there’s still time to get in the spirit. Boy, the snow really helps!
I started thinking about Christmases past. Lots of the usual memories of my mom’s famous flocked trees, eating posole Christmas day and finding the perfect gift to make my daughter squeal Christmas morning.
One of my all time favorite memories was when I took my daughter to Coronado Center to see Santa. It was 1997 and I had her all dressed up in her velvet shirt and favorite red Chuck Taylors. We stood in line forever waiting for a whole lot of screaming kids to get off of Santa’s lap and kids whose lists were way too long. I was curious what my three year old daughter would ask for – hoping that it wouldn’t "break the bank" since it was the first Christmas since her dad and I had divorced.
My kiddo hopped on Santa’s lap and didn’t cry. Whew! She looked at him with intense curiosity. A picture was taken and then he said his usual “Ho! Ho! Ho!” and asked her what she wanted for Christmas. She got a giant smile on her face and said…”A birthday cake!” Santa got a surprised look on his face and then busted out laughing. I busted out laughing too! I guess to a three year old, she associated presents with birthday cake and therefore that’s what she wanted! Santa gave me a big wink and said she made his day.
So I asked a few of my friends and family about their favorite holiday stories that took place here in Burque. Of course my cousins Diego and Steven had hysterical stories. I've picked out a few of my favorites. Enjoy! And then let me hear yours!
We always do the Old Town/Country Club walk on Christmas Eve. One year we were walking around Old Town and we were getting ready to cross to the Country Club area. They had just built that fountain/sitting area that says Plaza Viejas off of Central so we decided to take a swig of champagne and take some pictures. We were sitting and my dad was taking pictures and it seemed unusually hot all of a sudden. My dear friend Russell was sitting too close to the luminarias and his coat had caught on fire. Well, I guess my dad was too buzzed or couldn’t see and we were all posing and he kept saying ‘move in closer.’ I turned to my side and my friend was in flames. HOW COULD HE NOT NOTICE?????? We all started screaming and yelling ‘You’re on fire! You’re on fire!’ Well, Russell gave a new meaning to the name “flamer.” He put out the fire on his coat and then we took pictures of the ruined little luminaria bag and of his coat. We drank some more champagne and went to the Country Club …laughing all the way!
One year, Diego had a sprained ankle and couldn't walk around Old Town on X-mas Eve to see the luminarias, which was a tradition for us. So I pushed him around in a wheelchair wrapped in a blanket. I would leave him on street corners with a tin cup yelling: "Merry Christmas, please help the homeless!" It was hilarious!
To add on to the story that Steven sent you, it was funnier than that because he had brought one of those court jester hats from NYC with the bells and different colors. I was wearing it because it was so cold outside and people actually thought I was mentally challenged. I was drinking hot chocolate with some kind of booze out of a tin mug and when it was finished, I was just kind of holding it out, I was sitting in my wheelchair out side of the Albuquerque Little Theatre while some of my family went to use the restroom. People who were walking by started putting change in my cup because they thought I was some kind of UNICEF POSTER BOY! Well Steven went hysterical laughing when he saw this… I was not that amused.
So here is a holiday tradition for me and my family... and well the entire San Jose community! December 12th is the "Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe." This is one of the most important holidays in Mexico. So every 12th of December I will go to my mom's house. Her house used to be my Nana's, My Nana had an altar for Señora de Guadalupe built on the tree in her front yard. So I will go and decorate her on her special day. I've done it every year since I was like 7. The weird thing is that the Señora will only let me decorate her! It’s kinda strange but if someone else tries, bad things happen. One year for instance, I was working late and my mom, Nana, and brother tried to do it before the sun went down. Well none of the Christmas lights worked! They were brand new and even the ones in my Nana’s house went off! No circuits were thrown... so I get to my Nana's house and get to work. I decorate her how she tells me to and I plug in the lights...voila! The Señora 's lights worked and the Christmas tree lights and house lights went on too! Weird and it’s happened more than once!
Well, to continue we are not the only ones that do it. The entire San Jose community celebrates this day. You can drive down Williams Street and see almost every house has an altar and has decorated their Señora de Guadalupe. We even do posadas. Kinda like a little parade down the neighborhood visiting each altar. Then the local priest picks one and the entire neighborhood will go in eat and have a good time. These posadas are some of the earliest memories I have and it's nice to know that in a bad neighborhood like San Jose, everyone can put the drugs and violence aside to celebrate the Señora de Guadalupe. The last couple of years have been tough, though, when decorating her because my Nana passed away a couple of years ago... but no matter how busy my life gets I'll continue to celebrate it for her.
When my brother, sister and I were little ones (I don't remember the ages, I could ask my mama) we realized that trees were being killed for Christmas - that in order for us to have a Christmas tree, a tree had to die. We were devastated and wouldn't permit another tree to be killed in the name of holiday celebration. So my mama found a big old tumble weed and decorated away. ;)
The funnest Christmas every year: We lived on the West Side of the river back when only Alameda and I-40 were the crossovers. We lived about a mile or 2 closer to Alameda, so we were always going to North 4th Street because that was where all the action was. My Dad had this friend who owned the "service station" - they don't make those anymore- on 2nd and Osuna. His name was George Smith. We loved him because my Dad would take us over there and he would draw on our skin with markers and make "tatoos" like he had - he must have been a military guy. He also had tons of bubble gum and candy and we would partake often. My sister and I were in elementary school.
Flash forward to every Christmas: Our parents used to hang it over our heads that Santa could see everything we were doing and we would never know when he was going to check on us. So right around the holiday when we were driving our families crazy and when it was dark, my Dad would jump up and say did you hear that?! Of course, …with big eyes, we would hear something on the roof. My Dad would say that was Santa and his reindeer. We were so excited we would look out the window and my Dad would say, “Do you see him?” and we would get a glimpse of him in the window, then we would run outside to see him. We could hear him but never really get a good look of him. You know, we were really good for the rest of the season.
The NOT for Children Part: Later we came to find out that it was George Smith and his son. His son would get on the roof - that is why we knew it was Santa because how could he be in the window and on the roof? He would be in the window and running outside - it was so great!!!! The wonders of our childhood around Christmas lived with the effort friends and neighbors made to support our beliefs.
We have one of our funniest family Xmas memories that took place in Albq - up on the Crest to be exact. Bit hazy memory of it now - glad to have my sister's help!
Visiting Grandma for Christmas in 1968, our parents decided to try skiing up at Sandia Peak. We were able to rent skis at the Lomas and San Pedro ski rental only for my mom (who had skied in Santa Fe in the 40's when she was a teacher in Hobbs) and for my sis and I. There were no boots available in my dad's size but he was a home movie buff so he didn't mind not being able to ski, he was going to get us on film.
We got lessons at the Bunny slope with the rope tow. My sis and I felt totally terrified & immobile this first time with longest boards ever attached to our feet. My mom snowplowed effortlessly to the bottom of the hill - shouting encouragements to us above. When we wouldn't budge, the young man trying to teach us moved to help the other members in our class who were actually gliding. Then my mom shouted, "Try side-stepping." Sis and I tried that and we finally made it to the bottom of the hill.
Next was coming back up on the rope tow. We guess our mom got on and got up fine. My dad, positioned at the vortex of the rope tow at the bottom, was filming away. I ended up falling off the steep side hill next to the tow. Sis coming up next, saw me and started laughing her head off - uncontrollably, as her 3 daughters do today. She ended up getting off on wrong side of tow and operator told her she would have to take off her skis to get out of the area she got in. The instructor didn't know WHAT to do with us. When I turned to look downhill, I saw my dad was face down in the snow - the bar had come around and knocked him & movie camera flat. More laughing from my mom & me, all 3 of us now almost in tears. He got up and dusted the wet snow off of everything. We found out later he had been hit on his bald HEAD with the tow bar - :< yeowie.
We all took our skis off after that - our parents gave up getting their girls on skis - and went to the restaurant for hot chocolate. We have family snapshots of us waiting for the tram in a blizzard - all of us with our dark glasses on, my sis with her bright yellow rimmed ones. Big silly grins on our faces - we had our first ever ski adventure on the Crest! We do not remember ever seeing the movie, though.
Thanks everyone for your wonderful stories!!