REPOST: 6. The Heart of the Season: Celebrating the Season with Light…New Mexico Luminarias

(First annual repost , most likely! …with an additional photo )

Happy Holidays to All!

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Although I really don’t celebrate Christmas in a “traditional” way, I do love the lights of the season!  I put up some lights on my little tree out front and enjoy all the displays in the neighborhood.  One in particular is very spectacular this year, in the sidestreet across from me. One house has a great display of  luminaries around its  entire roofline, similiar to what you can see in the first picture below.

From the New Mexico Tourist Board:

Farolitos and Luminarias — a New Mexico Tradition

The beautiful glow illuminating New Mexico’s walkways during the holiday season comes from “farolitos” also called “luminarias” (depending on where you are—north or south). This New Mexico tradition began over 300 years ago when the Spanish villages along the Rio Grande displayed the unique and easy to make Christmas lanterns to light up the dark winter nights. A traditional farolito is made up of a brown paper bag, folded at the top, and partially filled with sand. A lit votive candle placed on top of the sand in the bag creates a warm holiday glow.

Many towns and pueblos hold celebrations and light the luminarias/farolitos on Christmas Eve.  The tradition is also followed throughout the Southwest, as well as parts of California.

Luminarias/Farolitos with Other Lights of the Season

Luminarias/Farolitos with Other Lights of the Season

Old Town Albuquerque Farolitos

"Old Town" Albuquerque Farolitos

(NMSU Noches de Luminarias, here in Las Cruces. Pic no longer available)

Acoma Pueblo

Acoma Pueblo (Sky City)

So, enjoy the lights tonight, whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, the Solstice of  last weekend, Kwanzaa or simply enjoying your unadorned Festivus pole!!!

***

UPDATE: Last night’s Christmas Eve (2008) celebration in historic Mesilla….

December 24, 2008

Mesilla Plaza: December 24, 2008

Another view of a Christmas Eve in Mesilla:

5. The Heart of the Season: Hats for Grail Mama and Friends Beyond Family

~~By Grail Guardian

We all know that 2008 has been a very trying year for all of us; the devastating election season, rampant misogyny and racism, the trampling of the Constitution, the endless betrayals of Congress and the President, the collapse of the world economy, the horrific tragedy of Bettyjean Kling and her family, the list seems to go on and on. For me there has been an added trial. This summer, my mother came down with what she described as a stomach bug. She was tired, weak, and couldn’t hold down solid food. After 2 weeks of applesauce and Jell-O we dragged her kicking and screaming to the doctor, and an ultrasound scan revealed she had gall stones. Or so we thought. After what was supposed to be simple laproscopic surgery, she emerged from the operating room with a ten inch abdominal incision and a diagnosis of aggressive gall gladder cancer.

What made this diagnosis especially awful is that about 40 years ago, she had developed Hodgkins Disease (cancer of the lymph nodes). At the time of her diagnosis, medical science was still a bit backward (although I’m personally not convinced we’ve come that far) and she underwent some of the first chemo and radiation therapy used to fight cancer. The ordeal she went through was indescribably awful; the primitive nitrogen-mustard chemo left her unable to life her own head and the radiation left her with disrupted balance and co-ordination, scar tissue, and brittle bones for the rest of her life. But she defied the medical community and lived. Though confined to a wheelchair and unable to do simple things like drive or put a holiday turkey in the oven, she eventually went on to go horseback riding, bowling, scuba diving, and even skiing!

Her life had been transformed, but she lived as normally as she could until she started to slow down again this summer. The surgeon was able to remove most of the cancerous mass, but there was a small bit in her liver that was inoperable. Although I know she was terrified by the memory of her first experience, after the oncologist assured her that they used much gentler stuff these days she summoned her strength and agreed to try chemo and radiation again. The doc was truthful – it was less obnoxious, producing some nausea and extreme weakness and tiredness, but nothing like the first time. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, we discovered it also hadn’t worked.

The day the doc delivered the news, I was (needless to say) a bit overwhelmed. Winter in upstate NY is not for the faint of heart or body, and even the short trek to the cancer center left her cold and tired. She and Dad drove home (Dad said she had slept a bit on the drive over, but I seriously doubt she did on the way back). I finished out the work day in a stupor and headed for home totally disheartened. As my mind raced with thoughts of what we could do next (the doc wasn’t optimistic about alternate forms of chemo, and she told us the side effects would be much worse), I climbed the stairs and found a box sitting outside my door. It was my own little holiday miracle in the making.

In the flurry of medical activity of the week, I had forgotten that our very own Kenosha Marge had e-mailed me a few days earlier to tell me she was sending me a Christmas gift. I opened the box to find a delightful custom-made InsightAnalytical shopping bag and an absolutely wonderful warm and fuzzy fleece IA hat. My first thought was my mother. I knew the hat would be perfect for her! She absolutely loved it, and when we met for a family breakfast a few days later she showed it off to everyone, being sure they noticed the InsightAnalytical embroidered on the brim. She’s never been to the site, and I’m quite sure she didn’t know what IA was, but she pointed it out and made all her friends read it. She kept it on through breakfast and fought with Dad every time he tried to adjust it or get her to take it off.

I sent Marge an e-mail to thank her for her wonderful gifts, and told her I hoped she didn’t mind that I planned on lending the hat to my mother. Well, not only didn’t Marge mind, she immediately responded that she had a Christmas hat that was much prettier that she was sending. (In Marge’s words:” Most of us gals feel a little better knowing that we look better.”) Within a day or so, she e-mailed me again to let me know that not only was the Christmas hat on the way, but 2 others as well! It seems Marge has made hats previously for others with cancer and she had some extras. My mother was quite grateful and delighted! She hasn’t had the chance to wear them all out yet (we got a couple feet of snow here yesterday, so the parents are staying housebound for a bit), but I wanted to do something special to thank Marge for her generosity, talent, and friendship. So now IA readers can get an exclusive view of Marge’s Hatbatty Hats, modeled by Grail Mama:

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Christmas Hat

In case you’re wondering, we’ve decided to try an herbal remedy called Graviola, and in January hope to see specialist Dana Flavin König (highly recommended by my cousin Christina).

So again, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Kenosha Marge and to GRL (who has also been very supportive to me personally) for doing their share to make the season bright! And I don’t want to forget American Lassie and Leslie, who also have been great friends in our IA community!

Whatever holiday(s) you may celebrate (if any at all), I want to wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!