Saturday, December 15, 2012

Savor Christmas Week in Las Cruces

By S. Derrickson Moore LAS CRUCES — There have been some real, soul-gratifying triumphs this year, but it’s also been a year of challenging trials for almost everbody I know. We’ve lost some leaders who made vital contributions to Las Cruces’ cultural community and many of us have said “adios” to dear friends and relatives. It’s a time when we seem compelled to take stock of where we’ve come from, where we’ve been and where we’re going. But for most (even those of us who haven’t managed to crank out a holiday newsletter or tackle a Christmas card list), all that can wait. It’s Christmas week in Las Cruces and most of the holiday hoopla is over. We’ve lived through the mercantile events: Christmas in July, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Many have celebrated several traditional spiritual events of the season, including Hanukkah, La Posada, Los Pastores, and all but one of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival events (the processions, masses, pilgrimage, dancing and feasts: closing day ceremonies will be Jan. 1). There’s the fun stuff: holiday school pageants, concerts, plays, movies, art exhibits, do-it-yourself arts and crafts workshops, Santa visits, outdoor markets, tree-lightings, Winterfest, holiday decorating, luminaria fiestas ... We rarely have snow to dash through in one-horse open sleighs, but there seem to be horse-drawn carriages around a lot this time of year. And we have chiles: lots and lots of red and green chiles. They’ll still be around, but pretty soon, the blessed Christmas quiet will descend. There’s one more big event: Christmas Eve on the Mesilla Plaza, but even though it’s now attracting thousands, there is something that’s always peaceful and soul-restoring about the gathering. I’ve discussed the phenomenon several times over the years with Lalo Natividad, who with his late partner Richard Weeks, founded El Grupo Cultural de Mesilla, which helped bring traditional Borderland celebrations back in the Mesilla Valley. He told me he savors the reverent, peaceful moments that come when the multitudes gathered for Christmas Eve join to sing his favorite carol: “Silent Night.” There will be lots of moments to treasure over the next week. Visits to churches for special services. Maybe a wreath or a little bouquet to honor a dearly departed soul who is gone from the Christmas table this week, but very vividly remembered. Memories are a vital part of this season: making new ones, reliving the best of Christmases past. If you pay attention, you’ll find them dancing in eyes of all ages: memories being formed, embraced and treasured. Even our excited kids and grandkids will have their subdued moments. When they go off to feign sleep and listen for reindeer hoofs on the roof. When the presents are unwrapped and everyone is taking inventory, or considering a nap. The caroling and party din will give way to mellower “oohs and ahs,” during drives to see the lights and admire neighbor’s decorations. There will be quiet walks on favorite trails and around familiar hoods. Trial runs for new toys, and skates and bikes and scooters. There will be quiet talks, in person and via phone and Skype. And moments of comfortable, companionable silence, when, if you’re fortunate, just being with loved ones seems holiday enough. There will be time enough to think about cleanups and undecking the halls, and departures and returns and post-holiday bargains and bills and storage. But not for the next few days. This is a time for family and love, for contemplation of the meaning of this blessed season. A time when peace on earth seems not just a dream, but an achievable goal. Merry Christmas. 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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