Our first Christmas in Santa Fe has been a wonderful, magical and community-centered experience unlike no other. Just like the celebrations of the summer months, "The City Different" knows how to have fun and put on a party, and our own microcosm of the city here at The Commons on the Alameda Cohousing Community also knows how to make the most of the season.
On Christmas Eve, we made our way to Canyon Road for the very famous Canyon Road Christmas Eve walk, an event that is now attended by 20,000 to 30,000 people. But first, we stopped at a local gourmet chocolate shop for spicy Mayan hot chocolate to pique our palates and warm our bones.
On this special night, the entire road is closed to vehicular traffic and is transformed into a spectacle of bonfires (luminarias) and farolitos (paper bags filled with sand and lit with candles). Some galleries, residents and shops go all out, lighting their property and adobe walls with dozens, if not hundreds, of farolitos, and the effect is stunning.
Many galleries and shops offer free hot cider, cocoa and snacks, and there are planned and spontaneous outbursts of holiday singing and caroling at every turn. Although there are thousands of people, it is a very tranquil event, and there was a very palpable peaceful aura all through the city.
Thanks to a local friend, we were invited to several nearby house parties, where we were treated to hot food, egg nog, and other holiday cheer. It was a nice respite from the chilly night, and we were greeted along the way by people gathered in front of fires along the darkened streets.
Christmas Day dawned bright and sunny, with abundant blue skies. Here at The Commons, a group of carolers wandered the community beginning at 10am, singing for various neighbors as they asked for their cups to be filled. We rewarded these intrepid singers with French cognac, and then joined them on their merry rounds. We ended our singing at a neighbor's home, where a generous spread of food and drink was on offer, with kids and dogs running and playing in the large living room as adults laughed and talked.
Luckily for us, our son and daughter-in-law arrived from Taos by noon, and we enjoyed a long, lazy day of opening presents, cooking a sumptuous meal, walking along the river, and playing charades after sundown. It was a lovely and memorable time, and the day ended as sweetly as it began.
On Sunday---Boxing Day---we had a delicious brunch with our "kids" and bid them adieu. Leaving Tina at home, we went for a very special hike in the hills along the Rio Tesuque outside of town, and marveled at the beauty of the forest, the icy running water, and the sun that tried its best to make its way down into the shady darkness of the forest.
This evening, a Boxing Day gathering at The Commons featured desserts, even more holiday cheer, and time to elongate the holiday feelings that have enveloped our little community all week.
It's been a special holiday weekend, and we look forward to the celebrations that will no doubt be in the offing as 2010 wanes and 2011 dawns.
Happy holidays to all, and our blessings to you and yours at this special time of year!