Saturday, December 15, 2012

N.M. cures holiday blues By S. Derrickson Moore LAS CRUCES — I’ve known some Grinches and Scrooges in my life. And I know many more sad souls with profound aversions to the holidays, who have been traumatized by tough experiences in Christmases past. Some bear wounds from childhood, from tragedies and disappointments so at odds with the joyous image of the season that their injuries remain painful into adulthood, scarred over but never quite healed. I’m doing my best to persuade them all to spend at least one holiday in New Mexico. I maintain that a festive week in the Land of Enchantment can be more therapeutic than a host of Dickensian ghosts or Dr. Seuss epiphanies. Forget the New Age world tours. Everything you need is right here in a three-step program. Eat. Pray. Love New Mexico. Usually, I coax them here with the trappings: the piñon scented nights, the rosy red ristras, the luminarias, the fiestas, the cozy adobes glowing against a sky so brightly blue that the world seems filled with summer-strength light and warmth even if we get some rare snow flurries. Proper nourishment is crucial to holiday rehab strategies. And what could be more natural in a place where the official state question is “Red or Green” and a popular official answer is “Christmas”? It’s vitally important, for Grinches or wounded souls alike, to get that green chile level up. There are so many green chile delicious delivery systems: tamales, enchiladas, posole, salsa, stew, relleños, green chile cheesecake and wontons … even green chile beer and wine. Once you’re fortified with vitamins, capsaicin and our celebrated chile-induced endorphin rush, you’re ready to get out in the world and enjoy all the sounds, sights and fiesta delights of the season. And there will be lots of unique options, particularly of you’re working with a culturally deprived soul who’s never experienced a New Mexico Christmas. If your victim has a sense of humor, a speedy and full recovery is almost guaranteed. It helps that you can lure ’em into many moving Christmas moments disguised in a festive camouflage that may not look like a traditional holiday celebration. One confirmed holiday depressive was almost instantly cured with a visit to my then-tiny grandson’s Hillrise Elementary School pageant, where a 12 Days of Christmas presentation involved roadrunners and assorted other unusual and amusing choices. We deck our halls, trees and our cactus and sometimes, even our tumbleweeds, with imaginative New Mexico ornaments: angels made of yucca pods, red chile Santas, kachinas, gourds, feathers, Mexican paper flowers ... My shock and awe holiday cure tour for years has started at La Posta, once famed for its creative Christmas display of tanks of piranhas flanked by poinsettias. But even without the man-eating fish, I defy anybody to leave uncheered by their colorful borderland Christmas trees, which always remind me of the swirling skirts of beautiful folklorico dancers. There’s lots to love in Mesilla: Billy the Kid Gift Shop’s annual rooftop manager scene, just above the head of a big portrait of the legendary William Bonney, himself. The heartwarming Mesilla Plaza Christmas Eve of carols and luminarias. And there are lots and lots of luminarias: Today at NMSU, next Friday at Winterfest in Downtown Las Cruces and an open house at White Sands National Monument, Saturday at Fort Selden State Monument and Elephant Butte’s Weekend of Lights Luminaria Beach Walk and Floating Parade of Lights. However chronic your holiday blues, or limited your resources, there’s something about a New Mexico Christmas that’s heartwarming, enlightening, loving and inclusive that can sneak in and imbue your soul with the true spirit of the season. Happy holidays. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; 575-541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

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