The most beautiful time of the year sometimes brings the most sadness and isolation to so many people.
A young girl of 10 normally does not see anything but the best of the season, at least such seemed to be the case for this young girl growing up in northern New Mexico in the ‘60s.
The season was all about religion, festivities, gifts, great food and of course family. Back to a time when it was perfectly normal to mix religion with public schools, back when everyone in your town attended the same church service on Christmas Eve and walked away with the feeling of joy and peace. It was a time of rehearsing for the Christmas school play that involved the nativity scene. It was a time to rehearse Christmas carols in both English and Spanish indicative of a total bilingual student body.
A time to dig your way out of several foot-high snowdrifts that the weather of yesteryear brought — a time of quiet solitude as the clear New Mexico skies, free of pollution, exposed a magical jet-black sky with endless sparking diamonds on la Nochebuena. It was a time when a single string of Christmas lights (large bulbs) on someone’s front door or window brought familiarity to your existence.
Ours was not a typical small town U.S.A. Our little community was not wealthy or even middle America, yet it was not truly impoverished. We did not have homeless folks. Everyone had a roof over their head, food and clothing. Looking back, times were hard for many back then, I recall visiting some elderly folks in my community as my mother delivered a pumpkin or apple pie because according to mom they were now incapable of cooking for themselves. As my father participated in this venture by chauffeuring my mother, I recall a visit to the single man or widower whom mom delivered tortillas to because his wife had passed away last year and he was now “a lonely man.” A visit to the couple with too many children meant a box of canned goods and used clothing for their growing children. These deliveries brought smiles to many.
The items delivered changed over the years, sometimes it was roasted piñon, firewood, cherry chocolates, hard candy and peanuts, but the routine and message was the same — someone needs us during the most beautiful time of the year.
As a child I often wondered why my parents did this. I often asked my mom why we had to make these rounds during the coldest month of the year when we could be in the comfort of our own home. She replied, “People are lonely, ill, poor and need others. When you give to someone it is returned to you in tenfold.”
Little did I know then that it was a lesson in the true meaning of the season.