I just got back from Santa Fe and noticed that the city has been taken over by dragons!
It was rather amazing.
These are my dragons from Santa Fe.
I spotted this dragon hiding in the corner in Raton, right next to a penny weight machine.
The enduring part of any holiday is the traditions that accompany it. There is a soothing quality to personal and family rituals. Christmas traditions are a mixed bag. Stores playing Christmas music starting November 1 have definitely worn out their welcome by December 1. If I hear “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” or “Rum pum pum pum” one more time I may become homicidal. Gift giving is fraught with peril, the ideal is to know a person well enough to select something that they like, want or need. The reality is sometimes “you thought of me and got this?”
Part of what we think of as traditions is deeply influenced by Dickens and his accursed novella “A Christmas Carol”. It was popular when first written and because the copyright has expired it has been endlessly made, re-made and parodied. I saw a list that rank ordered versions of the story. This made me wonder “what exactly is Scrooge’s crime? He has a love of money, perhaps influenced by his early experiences. But he is a hoarder, he’s not using the money for personal comfort and he’s not spreading it around in his neighboring retail establishments. So with his transformation perhaps Scrooge is the patron saint of Christmas shopping, all because of his fear of ghosts.
My favorite part of Christmas traditions are my personal rituals. It is hard sometimes to muster up enthusiasm on the short, dark days as the year winds down, but I somehow do it every year. I always loved the Christmas tree and lights, there was something magical and extraordinary in them. GA called the ornaments “vessels of emotional memory”, we see them and are carried back to the Christmases of the past and those we shared them with. There is some idiosyncratic reason that we love certain ones and a reason we carry the memory. It’s always nice to see them come out of their box for a brief visit. I love cooking the foods of Christmas, ham, St. Louis gooey butter cake and steamed apple/cranberry pudding are essential and other foods make a short debut but don’t make the final team. I love to keep traditions, yet it will still be a memorable Christmas even if I forge a completely new action.
Here’s a picture from about 1934. Seated is my dad and standing next to him is his half-brother.
This was the big family secret that I only found out years after he died, that they were only half-brothers. My great uncle told me the story when I said my grandmother had told me that my grandfather was “the handsomest man” that she ever laid eyes on. This was a puzzler as no one would describe my grandfather like that. So my great uncle told me the story: the mystery man worked with my great uncle, he met my grandmother, they got married (?) and he left her before my dad was born. Later my grandfather had moved to the city and lived next door to my grandmother. When they married he made her a deal, she would never speak of my dad’s father, and would have no contact with his family. She kept the deal, except for that stray comment.
My dad lived with his grandparents when he was little and was a native Russian speaker. He was a boxer, an artist and a bum. He died in 1992.
Following the lead of GA I’m posting these pictures and a little story about their lives.
This picture was taken in 1905 and it is of students at Tunassassa Indian School. This was a Quaker run boarding school for Indians. My grandmother is the girl above the left shoulder of the matron in white. My grandmother married another student from the school and had three children with him. After he died she married my grandfather. He had gone to Thomas Indian School. They had two children, my uncle and my mom.
One of the many things my grandmother learned in school was how to quilt, and she is the reason that I became a professional quilter.
This is my aunt in the raggedy dress that she had to wear at Indian School. She was 14 years older than my mom and married when she was 18. She had a stepdaughter and four children. The other people in the picture are my grandmother and Ernst, who died in 1930.
This is my mom. She attended the local school, and went away to college where she met my father. They were married for 43 years until his death. She had seven children, me and my brothers. She died after a long illness 2 years ago.
She attended a one room school house, then went to high school with white students. She hated to have to wear braids, and when she went to high school she cut her hair and never wore it long again.
This is one of my cousins. She was only a little younger than Mom and they grew up together. She married, had children and lived next to my aunt on the reservation. Her husband was the only native speaker of Iroquois that I ever met. She was an elderly woman the last time I saw her when I visited the reservation. Because we lived so far away, we did not get to see these relatives very often, although I did spend a summer with my aunt. My older brother moved to the rez before he joined the Marine Corps and met his wife there (she was a friend of my cousin Jenny).
We have a lot of deer in the city. They come down out of the mountains and like what they see, plenty of watered landscaping, streams, and not too many predators. They live in town year round.
They’re pretty secure and not really afraid of people. However, they might reconsider once they have seen this: the invasion of the fake deer.
Just like the recent invasion of giant spiders they seem to be taking over! I hope the real deer band together to fight this threat.
She turned her head so she didn’t have to look at the fake deer in the garage! 😉