Where I’ve been for Christmas

Where I’ve been for Christmas

I like to remember the many different places I’ve been for Christmas over my 68 years.
Of course I love every year I’ve enjoyed here in Northern New Mexico and look forward to this as my favorite place to be.
My earliest, but very faint, memories are of our family being with my dad in Germany as he served in the U.S. military as he occupied that very war-torn and devastated country – 1946 to 1949. I was very young but always remember the snow and cold of the mountains of the town of Bad Orb. I remember our house keeper giving us little ones dark bread smeared with butter and sugar! Oh, what a treat that had to have been. Of course our family being one of a U.S. Army officer had more than most or all that the Germans had at the time but this wasn’t a thought to enter the mind of a 4-year old at the time!
And then the memories of Christmas in Albuquerque from 1949 – the early ‘60’s. And the that which I remember was really, really hoping for snow on Christmas Day (just like that song!). And usually we didn’t!
But I really remember most, too the cookies and candies made by my sisters and my Mom. Decorated sugar cookies and divinity candy and canes and – wow, break time as I find some treats!!!!
In those early days in the ‘50’s we drove around the Albuquerque Country Club area – so decorated with luminarias (this was Alb, remember!) and lights. Later, as a teen, I put dozens of luminarias (ok, ok, farolitos) around our house in the South Valley. I have always been proud that I had decorated our home in that manner – so traditional and we really didn’t have other decorating traditions at that time.
Our tree was a wonder, always! We had so many decorations brought back from our years in Germany. Special lights and really wonderful ornaments! I would that we had them now – they’d be worth a million!

I spent two Christmas’s in Panama where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1964 to 1966. I don’t remember being especially home-sick – I guess that one must learn to enjoy wherever one happens to be and not wish for something else! But these were two really good times. I remember having been in Panama for such a short time when we celebrated in 1964. A group of other volunteers joined with some local American priests and missionary nuns as we went to hospitals and such and sang Christmas Carols and greeted people. This was fun, and we decorate trees and homes; hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are making others feel good – and again, great for your own ego/feelings!

I did get to spend one Christmas season in New Jersey and Connecticut while I was in the Army in 1966. Mostly I remember the cold and snow and sledding in the hills in Connecticut. Winter/Christmas in New England is an experience that is to be enjoyed!

I was in Luxembourg with my brother and his family in 1967 as I served in the Army in Germany. The fun of this particular Christmas was of the traditions of this place. The wonderfully decorated tree that used actual candles as decorations though lit only once and with great care! And the arrival of the local St. Nick in old, traditional attire unlike our current one of Santa as he delivered gifts to the two very young boys of the house-hold. This was so very much fun as we drank and ate and enjoyed the kids as they were overwhelmed by their holiday gifts!

One of the most fun times we had for Christmas was going into the mountains for trees. We lived in Maxwell, NM for 10 years and had many great friends and memories there. One of our “duties” as town officials was to go for the town-tree. We went into the mountains above Raton into an area owned by the local coal company, and with their approval, to seek out the perfect tree! This was fun, and work! Slogging through snow and up and down ridges ‘til, ahhhh, the perfect 25’ tree! By the way, never select a huge tree and have to haul it a great distance to the road! The tree we would bring to town was erected by the local electric coop and decorated by the community. This was in reality quite an honor and an experience for Peg and me! OOOOPS, except for the time we ran into a “road-block) – a real Forest Service road block! And then trying to explain who we were and where was our permit and why did we also have a couple of un-tagged trees (well, you know – for us and friends!). Finally with a few phone calls to the coal company and such we were released! Now, a great experience; then, a lot of fear of jail!

And now, Christmas in my classroom:
Any tree, real or artificial would do and the decorations were only those things that kids had brought over the years; cookies and ornaments and lights and such. The tree was actually the basis for the “Charlie Brown” tree, I think! But the heart of the season, for me, was that tree, especially after my divorce and having a solo season – so thanks, all you kids, you always did (and still do) made my Christmas!

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One Response to “Where I’ve been for Christmas”

  1. Barbara Romero Says:

    Great story, thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas!!!

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