My first memory of Santa was the Coke Santa. Maybe that is why now I stress the historical Santa instead of the commerical one.
Our long-held tradition for Christmas Eve is to give recognition to the historical origins of the holiday in two ways: 1) attending a Christmas Eve church service, and 2) the recitation of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.
An old retablo icon of St. Nicholas is one of my most cherished decorations and nearby is a little collection of Santa Clauses that now, in Santa Fe, are clustered under a collection of New Mexico Spanish Colonial retablos and santos. St. Nicholas was a monk living in Turkey in the 3rd century and his
charitable selfless works led to him being named a saint and he became
the most popular saint in Europe, and is known as the saint of children and sailors.
Santa caught on big-time in America when Clement Clarke Moore published a poem December 23, 1932 - now known as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. He had written this for his daughters and it was originally titled “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.”
Trying to tamp down the idea of Santa Claus as the Saint of All Things Commercial is a swim-against-the-tide effort in our culture. Still, I try. Winter solstice-turned Catholic Church holiday, the idea of God's gifts and our gifts to one another.... well. The message gets muddled. Sitting out is a Charlie Carillo (Santa Fe's most famous santero) creche scene along with a nativity scene by a Santa Clara potter. It is art, history and religion, culture and traditions, family and friends and a season to celebrate these things as we share them together. Happy Holidays!
Working on my Christmas cards and this is my design. As much as we have moved, keeping up with friends and family and putting efforts into making new friends is a big deal and also a hassle and I'm conflicted. This year is a good one to change and move away from waste and commercialism but with friends all over, I don't want to lose touch. I wonder, do Facebookers feel less need to do this since they can keep up w/ friends cheaply and easily? Americans spend $450 billion on Christmas every year.
The importance of relationships and personal contact with a personal note... I can't not do this. Our friends and family are our greatest blessings, and I'm most thankful.
My husband's idea this year for the big family gathering we have on Christmas morning for all the extended family members: everyone is limited to bringing one gift, $20 max, and we do the fun game of each next person opening a gift being able to choose the one he/she opened, or choosing from among any previously opened.
We used to draw names for years and years. This is something new. If we do it.
Northern New Mexico's version is wonderful and there are many variations but this is the one I've found to be the best. If you want to try my Buffalo Green Chile Stew Recipe go ahead, or you can substitute the beeve meat right in this one.
2 lbs. pork butt or lean pork cubed* 3 green onions, sliced thin. Set aside the very tops of the green onions, sliced thin, about 1/4 of the lot for garnish 1 - 2 ears of fresh corn, cut from the cob (I like more corn, less potato) 3 - 4 potatoes cut into small chunks 2 onions, yellow, finely diced 4 large cloves of garlic, or 5 small ones, chopped finely or pressed 4 carrots, thinly sliced 4 stalks of celery, diced fine 12 cups chicken stock (and a bit of extra water or stock to add as the stew cooks down) 2 cups New Mexican green chiles, cut into small squares (New Mexico Chile Vendor)* 1 t. oregano, Mexican if possible 1 T. cumin, ground (best if quickly heated in a dry pan to break open the flavor and aroma)
In a large stew pot, heat olive oil until a bit of the onion put in the pot begins to sizzle. Add the garlic, carrots, onion, celery, oregano, 3/4 of the green onions and sauté until onions are translucent and the celery is soft. Cut the pork into several large pieces if it is the butt (or **cut the smaller cubed pieces) and brown it in the pot and then add the chicken stock. Add the cumin and bring the pot to a boil. Turn the heat down, skim off any foam and cook on low, covered, for 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Remove pork and shred then cut into bite-size pieces, returning it to the stew, and skim again if needed. Add the potatoes and corn and chiles and add more chicken stock. Cook 30 minutes or so until potatoes are tender.
Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of the green onions. Serve with tortillas and salt and pepper to taste.
This chair is one of my favorites, dating from our Texas country time period. These chairs were typical ones for pioneer homes and could be hung from a nail on the porch. When sat upon, the sitter would tip back.
Texas white rockers were toted to our Southern porch in Atlanta and now they are no longer white sitting on our Santa Fe portal. We have the rockers that three generation of babies were rocked in. What is your favorite chair? Here in America, where the rocking chair rose to fame, the lounge chair is the latest iteration of our fashion.
Prince Awaleed sits on carpets with pillows in his tent in Saudi Arabia. In the West, we've been used to furniture seating for ages. Egypt's Old Kingdom developed the first form of seating - the stool. From there, it spread to Rome. Elevated seating was introduced in the West before the Holy Roman Empire collapsed. Furniture for sitting was originally a means of displaying status or hierarchy. Think... have you been the chair of a committee? The chair was given to the leader. Where and how you sit says something. Being seated at the right hand is the position of honor. The head of the table? Seated on a throne? The back of the bus?
Bancos -- bench seating built into the wall - are part of the seating design of many adobe homes and restaurants in New Mexico. Scottish homes had built-in stone chairs like those at right.
We don't have lounge chairs but one of the first things I noted,
sitting in the back of auditoriums or meetings in Santa Fe, was the prevalence here of Lounge Chair Hair. Aging ladies, please check the back of your head before you leave the house.
The Vomit/Barf Bowl has been around for 25 years and I've kept up with it better than I have the family health records.
When was that tetnus shot? Did I have measles? Where is that last mammogram? What are the blood types of my children? Google Health, just
released, might be a good thing but I'm not ready for it yet. After moving so much and trying to keep up health records
from city-to-city, the idea of having all the health records online is
very appealing. I have found that the hardest thing about a move is getting the doctors in line. I wonder, does every new dentist want to redo a crown? Is that like a dog marking a territory?
Forbes has information
-- privacy defenders are worried about it since Google is not a health
care provider, it isn't covered by the privacy provisions of the Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Although Google says it
will ask you for permission to share information, and says you can
control information you do share, typical health information protections–HIPAA–don’t apply. Atlantic Monthly's blog writes: With
some form of universal coverage on the horizon, public attitudes toward
the privacy of medical information are due for a shift. Like it or
not, privacy is a second-tier concern compared with the benefits that
could come from the widespread use of personal medical records.
I love a lot of things about Google, but this one...I'm a bit skeptical. I won't be an early adopter on this one.
"My allowance doesn't cover the rising cost of gas," she says, calling home. "So you've got to go put money in my account so I can get home (from college in Texas to Santa Fe)." Average gas prices rose for an eighth straight week
and for the 15th time this year, a
record $3.791 a gallon with gas at the pump is 28.5 percent above last year... Whoah. Yesterday oil neared $130/barrel and oil prices are nearly twice what they were a year ago.
Plus, there is the needed haircut, plus... plus... plus...
"Yes, hair matters." (That's a Hillary Clinton quote).
Driving around the old stomping grounds with unbridled time is something I've missed since moving to Atlanta then NYC (or really, since having children and being a corporate wife) and what a gas, gas, gas it is. Who says empty nest is boring? Press the pedal to the metal and...hello world again.
When you have real friends, time can pass and you can pick up where you last left off. What a blessing. We lingered over long breakfasts, and dinners at hole-in-the-walls and spiffy haute places in Houston and could have stayed forever, catching up with friends. Houston real estate has more than tripled in home prices in some areas since we purchased homes there. We witnessed a little girl, all grown up, standing before a female minister to say "I do". Her mom looks the same, just the same, and found her dress (of all places?) in Santa Fe. And I found my mother-of-the-bride dress in NYC on Madison, fearful I wouldn't find one in Santa Fe after we left Manhattan. My husband flies out of Dallas and S.W. Airlines has an unplanned landing in Lubbock due to engine failure while I drive on. and on. and on.
My uncle talks like my Dad and walks like my cousin and looks like my grandfather and still lives in his same house in that little tiny Texas town I last visited over 12 years ago. My aunt can still joke and wore her diamond necklace and gold earrings and ladybug pin, even with the drag of Alzheimers. One cousin's son remembered me after 15 years -- half of his life. Another relative shows me her law office and her grandmother's (my great-grandmother's) law school diploma/bar certificate hanging beside her husband's and other family heirlooms. My mother's first cousin tells me tales of his endeavors with more enthusiasm than I've ever heard from him and I wonder how years pass fast with geographical distance separating these ties.
My childhood friends and acquaintances fill me in on all that has happened. Oklahoma still doesn't have good grocery stores, Texas blue laws are still in effect, The Daily Oklahoman has a front-page story on coon hunting (just sayin' - and you wonder why people make fun of Oklahoma?) and the talk is about the name of the new basketball team coming to town ("surely not the Okie Dokies" one man on a treadmill at the YMCA says next to me). The owners get a $60 million tax break for bringing the Seattle Sonics to the city. Helps when the old boys can get stuff done so taxpayers pay, right? I note my parents are top ranked weight lifters according to the March reports from the weight machines. Pretty good for 70-somethings. They go to two funerals a day sometimes. My mother doesn't break a sweat on the eliptical. I've toted a case of wine to my mother for mother's day -- delivered to New Mexico from Napa Valley and lugged all over Texas before I bring it to her, all because of Oklahoma's prohibition-era laws on liquor, still on the books, that preclude delivery of wine. This is why, Dad says, that Whole Foods won't come to town (still, he's trying, and tells me Tulsa has one so soon they might). Dad tells me of conversations with Tulsa's mayor, a college friend, who I say might be governor some day or go even higher.
I watch American Idol with my husband's god daughter. What a moment to savor. Her comments clue me in moment by moment -- I'd be totally clueless otherwise. I watch Rev. Wright's speeches that my mother pulls up on tv and marvel at her reaction. I tell my Dad to be careful with his categories -- that just as Obama, half-white, half-black, is known as black, Dad, a lapel-flag wearing Republican, might be known as a grumpy old white man.
I drive by my great-grandmother's house with my childhood best lasting friend who shows me where her mother grew up. This fabric of relationships, born from growing up in the same place as my great-grandparents, all close together, makes me sad for what my children don't have, with all the moves and such. My mother appreciates me smelling like fish --staying past my three-day limit of the last 28 years (you know, guests and fish stink after three days). My mother tapes her tv shows so she speeds through commercials watching Dr. Phil and his special on the polygamy affairs in Texas while she does her back exercises at 8:00 a.m. and I try to deal with email on the road on her computer. She turns the tv so I can see it in the mirror. The YMCA doesn't show Dr. Phil and Oprah on the exercise tv's she tells me, because they've gotten too racy. Meanwhile, the Texas governor ignores the polygamist story and Houston Mayor Mark White throws his hat in the ring for governor and Kay Bailey Hutchison is too old to be McCain's vp so she's running for Texas governor, too. I talk to an Oklahoman about New Orleans culture (her newly married daughter is there), equating learning how to maneuver the culture of Mardi Gras is similar to that of learning cultural affairs elsewhere. Shoot, I had to tell my daughter who moved to Dallas that you have to say in conversations: How 'bout them Cowboys.
Life is just a gas. I wish Oklahoma had a better national reputation and it makes me sad for it. I cringed when Rhea published the link to IF Celebrities Moved to Oklahoma. The fatness of the population was much discussed whilst I was there (the Mayor of Oklahoma City has a diet challenge out) and I noted when I moved from there the one mile in the Edmond suburb where I lived had the highest density of fast food places in the nation at that time. My friend says: Well, when a fast food burger is cheaper than what you can pay to make it yourself, what do you expect?
And the new oil and gas boom is playing out all over. Houston and DFW are humming along with Oklahoma City and cranes are everywhere. The Dallas/Ft.Worth Metro area has surpassed Houston so it is now NYC, L.A., Chicago, D/FW then Houston for the ranking. And I've lived in three of the five and am now back to small towns (Santa Fe is the smallest yet!). The increase in the price of steel is impacting oil and gas producers. My Dad tells me more than once the price he paid for Chesapeake stock way back when, now that it us up, up, up. The expansion of Chesapeake's campus and Devon Energy's announcement of hiring Hines to develop a new downtown skyscraper in Oklahoma City is the talk of the town. TCU in Fort Worth is getting over $9 million a month in oil/gas royalties. One Texas friend sends me this pic of gas prices. LOL. right. Those high gas prices, a real killer for this road trip.
The Croaker House is where you are gonna be living when you croak. Are you living now in your croaker house? We don't think we are, but we've been talking about this ever since my friend in Houston showed me her new house, one that she had designed and built and the one that would soon be empty with all of her children off to college.
"This isn't my Croaker House," she told me. She has plans to start over and do a smaller house. That's where she'll breathe her last breath, in the smaller house.
Croaker houses. That was a new thought, or a new way to put it. Joared wrote about Living in Place and I just am not ready yet to think about those things, or even think about Community Croaker Homes or reserving your ticket in. Having parents alive will do that for you, keep the wall of death way out there for awhile.