By Patricia H. Kushlis
There’s something special about the winter holidays in Santa Fe. The walk along Canyon Road is a unique treat especially for the hail and hardy. It’s a family friendly annual tradition that begins at dusk. The narrow street is closed to all but foot traffic. Bonfires are lit and groups of carolers of all ages – often warming their hands around fires some burning in old metal storage drums - can be seen and heard along the way. (Photo right: farolitos and light displays, Canyon Rd. by PHKushlis 12-24-2010)
Shops and grounds are lighted - from the farolitos or traditional New Mexican candles placed in waxed paper bags and grounded in gravel to the pyrotechnic displays of Tibetan wind sculptures enveloped in strings of electric lights. There was the Nutcracker too – only this one was aglow and affixed to the door of an art gallery. Galleries are open, hot cider and chocolate sold along the street. (Photo left: Nutcracker and photo right: decorations on Santa Claus by PHKushlis 12-24-2010)
Santa Claus strolls along Canyon Road too, but this Santa does not look like the ones outside department stores or in malls clanging bells next to Salvation Army donation kettles. No one could miss his unique regalia – a walking, breathing ad for New Mexico and the City Different – but Canyon Road’s Santa Claus solicited funds from or for no one - just benignly wishing one and all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. (Photo left: Bonfire on Canyon Rd. 12-24-2009 by PHKushlis)
Last Christmas Eve was bitterly cold. Maybe that’s also a Santa Fe tradition. It snowed a bit that evening, too. Or maybe I just imagined it. Just how the holidays should be celebrated in northern New Mexico: with a light blanket of snow, that is, not the chill.
This year, it’s been warmer. On Tuesday, a friend and I walked to the Basilica of St. Francis in a light mist for the Desert Chorale’s Christmas concert. The cathedral was lit and decorated inside and out for Christmas but the grounds were dank – although with another storm here – that picture may change over the next couple of days.
Last year, we had relatives visiting from the East. Lots of holiday cheer, skiers off to the slopes, fire in fireplace, and a brother-in-law and nephews who love to cook. That’s heaven!
Here's to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We’ll be back with more WV posts in 2011!