For so many years after the death of my parents and the complete dissolution of my little family, I lamented the fact that I was totally alone on Christmas. It seemed unbearable. This holiday had always been heralded with long hours of preparation — luscious decorations, joyful music, presents, pretty dresses, scrumptious food, and family festivities.
The celebration usually began about noon on Christmas Eve (with Lily’s tamales) and continued through the evening of Christmas Day with turkey and the trimmings. There was eggnog. Yum … mince pies!
Through the years, Christmas worship varied according to where we lived. Carol singing in the Baptist church, Episcopal or Catholic Midnight Mass, learning Silent Night in Hawaiian, and enjoying special Christmas drums of the Santa Clara Pueblo people under a starry sky.
The quiet and solitude was not a gift at first. It was necessary to escape the sadness by going to Santa Fe, where new memories were ultimately made. The fragrance of piñon fires mixed with a delightful aroma of roasting ancho chilies — throw in the crunch of new snow underfoot. Mix in the Native American traditions of Christmas Eve bonfires and streets lined with glowing luminarias. The Holiest of Christmas Eve services is the Midnight Mass at St. Francis Cathedral, with native drummers, Mexican trumpets, harps, incense — and prayers mixed in several languages. Santa Fe. A holy place to spend Christmas.
Now, at home on this rainy hillside, surrounded by black furry mounds of sleeping cats and my trusty dog, Fiona, I listen to carols from Pandora filling my art studio. Not tired from hours of holiday preparations. Not distracted by travel or people. Reflecting pleasantly on the Christmas celebrations of the past 68 years — unwrapping each one and savoring it, before calling forth the next one. It’s perfectly okay to be alone, when one has so many wonderful memories.