Makin’ new (and old) traditions

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One of my favorite foods for Christmas has always been, bar none, tamales.

Oh sweet masa and meat and a bit of heat!

Delicious.

I never realized just how lucky I was over the years to have wonderful neighbors, friends and coworkers who gifted me with handmade tamales every year.

Yum!

All the way out here in California, I don’t have wonderful tamale making friends and I miss them.

So this year, my mom-in-law, a wonderful cook and a lady filled with holiday cheer, suggested we make up a batch of our own tamales.

Oh yeah, baby!

We have both pork and green chile with cheese.

Gonna be a New Mexico Christmas in my house! My kitchen smells fabulous!

And making them with my new family might just have to be a new tradition!

Feast your little eyes!

Wrapped up and ready to be steamed!

Apply the heat.

Steamy goodness!

Yeah, many of these little guys didn’t make it very long out of the steaming pot. Poor delicious tamales! Hope they make it to Christmas!

Please have what and mistletoe?

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I’m a confirmed child of the West. I’ve lived all my years well to the left of the state of Texas.

As such, that means that these concepts of “winter” and “Christmas” mean a little something different than they do in all the songs I’ve been listening to today.

Yes, I admit, I succumbed to Christmas music today.

Ever since I was a kid, while I did like the ol’ Christmas tunes, I pondered about how many of them didn’t apply. And it’s not just about the weather.

Let’s take a look:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.” Yes. But not here.

It was over 60 degrees today.

“Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh…”

Well. Again. No snow.

No horses dashing around much either.

“Frosty the Snowman.” Nope.

However, there used to be a house in Albuquerque that had a flocked tumbleweed snowman in their yard every year, so this is a maybe…

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”

I don’t even know what the hell that means.

Marshmallows roasting on an open fire? Yes please! With chocolate and graham cracker.

As an aside…to celebrate the anniversary of the day we met, The Good Man took me to stay in a Ritz Carlton Hotel at the beach. It is a beautiful and very high class establishment. One of the features of our room was a fire pit on the back porch, intended, I’m sure, to sit by, stay warm, and gaze romantically at the ocean.

To show just how classy we are, we cooked marshmallows over that fire pit…. One of the best nights of my life!

But I digress.

“Tis the season to be jolly…fa la la la, la la la la…”

Um. Huh? Cuz I’m looking around at all my fellow mankind and I can tell you that “jolly” is *not* what people are feeling this season.

“Fa la la la bite me” is more the mood out there.

“We three king of Orient are, sharing gifts we travel so far…” Well. Ahem. “Orient” isn’t really politically correct these days.

“We three kings of the Pacific Rim” or “We three kings of AsiaPac” is probably more appropriate.

“Silent night, holy night” Hmph. Silent, eh?

Not after I’ve had a couple glasses of holiday cheer. Nope, then it’s snoring night, drooling night. I sure can’t handle the booze anymore…

But when it comes to good old fashioned spiked egg nog, I’m helpless.

So for The Good Man, ain’t no silent.

“Silver bells, it’s Christmastime in the city.”

Ok. Sure. Those Salvation Army guys and gals are working the bells. I’ll give you that one. Check.

We got one.

I won’t EVEN go down the list from the Twelve Days of Christmas.

But if my true love gave me swans, French hens, partridges, milk maids, leaping lords and pretty much any of the items other than the five gold rings, we might have to have a little conversation about “did you keep the receipt.”

And that little drummer boy can take his pah-rumpa-pum-pum up with the judge because I’m calling in a noise complaint!

Which pretty much leaves us with “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

Fair enough!

Christmas Redux

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I think it’s time to re-run what has to be THE most popular post ever in the three years on this blog.

Going back to December 2007.

It’s all still true.

Top ten things I miss about Christmas in New Mexico

1) Annual shopping trip to Old Town. A mom and me tradition. Every year I’d get to pick out an ornament that was mine. I now have all those ornaments in a Thom McAnn shoebox that, yes, Sunday night I opened and hung them all on my tree. They are like a history of my life. I remember buying most of them and it gives me a good sense of continuity to have them on my tree.

2) Luminarias. I always made them at my house. My mom would drive me to an empty lot to dig up two buckets worth of dirt and I’d fold bags, place candles and light them. It was my job and I loved every second of it, every folded bag, every candle that caught the bag on fire. I miss them.

3) The Bugg House, which, sadly, is no more. My sister lived over on Prospect and we’d go for a Christmas Eve walk in the evening to take a look at the outstanding display of holiday spirit. When I would go to Winrock Mall to shop, I’d always swing by the Bugg house to take a look. I miss it.

4) Neighbors bringing a plate of fresh made tamales as your Christmas gift. When you get three generations of Hispanic women in a kitchen with some masa and some shredded pork, magic happens. Yum! I also miss that people would come to work with tamales in a cooler and sell them to coworkers. I was always good for a half dozen or more.

5) A ristra makes a good Christmas gift. I’ve given. I’ve received. I love ’em. They’d become a moldy mess here…and that makes me sad.

6) Biscochitos. My love for these is well documented.

7) Sixty-five degrees and warm on Christmas Day. I think one year there was actually snow on the ground for the 25th. But it was melted by the end of the day. Oh Fair New Mexico, how I love your weather.

8) Christmas Eve midnight Mass in Spanish with the overpowering scent of frankincense filling up the overly warm church. Pure torture for a small child, but oh how I’d belt out the carols… And when we came home we could pick one present and open it. Gah! The torture of picking just one!

9) New Mexico piñon, gappy, scrawny Christmas trees that cost $15 at the Flea Market and were cut from the top of a larger tree just that morning. Look, to my mind, it ain’t a tree unless you are using low hanging ornaments to fill the obvious gaps. These fluffy overly full trees just ain’t my bag. If you ain’t turning the ‘bad spot’ to the wall, you paid too much for your tree.

10) Green chile stew for Christmas Eve dinner and posole for New Year’s. My mouth waters. It’s weep worthy. I can taste the nice soft potatoes in the stew, the chicken broth flavored just right…ouch! And posole to bring you luck with red chile and hunks of pork. Yeah……

Which is not to say I don’t have happy holidays where I live now…but sometimes I feel melancholy. And that’s what the holidays are for, right?

Image via.

Such a Suggestible Girl

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Sometimes it really worries me that the things I can most easily remember, can get to most quickly in the old brain bucket, are commercials.

Especially those commercials from the formative years.

I can whip out a jingle or a tagline from commercials dating way back, and repeat ’em like Rainman in a phone booth (yikes, no more phone booths!).

What makes these commercials so sticky in the brain? I don’t know, but obviously this is the intended effect, eh?

So here in this Christmas season, I’ve been thinking about all of those old Ronco commercials. No, not the new Ron Popeil ads. Those are lame.

The old Ronco ads. Let’s talk 1970’s.

Remember when Ronco ads used to repeat, ad nauseum, at every commercial break?

Here’s a few I was able to find on the web:

Smokeless Ashtray

Boogie Nights Record Album (Click to play)

Ice Cream Machine(Click to play)

Look at this!! The early Bedazzler!!

Rhinestone and stud setter(Click to play)

Oh yes. Good times.

There are a few of my faves I wasn’t able to find. For example, the Egg Scrambler. A funny little machine that with a pinprick to the egg and the revs of a small motor would scramble it up inside the shell.

Or the Record Vacuum. I found a couple of those ads, but not the one I remember. In the one I recall, they ran the vinyl through the vacuum then tossed a handful of confetti at it (to prove the static was gone, I think?).

Ah yes.

But then, there will always be the gold standard of Ronco commercials.

Found on the web and brought to you.

“Hey good looking! I’ll be back to pick you up later!”

Enjoy

Mr. Microphone! (Click to play)

Tis the Season

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Yesterday was a weird day.

Sure, mid-December always gets a little bit dicey when going out to run errands, but yesterday was especially odd.

I had a list of things to procure and not a lot of time, so over lunchtime I started at the top of the list. First stop, Home Depot.

Oh Home Depot, I know so many people love you, but I rarely visit your orangey evil warehouse.

I needed some tools (I have a fun Christmas project for The Good Man’s little sister in progress). Since Home Depot is the Wal-Mart of hardware stores, and I wanted to spend only a little green, I decided to give it a try.

Wow, did you know there is some sort of force field going on in Home Depot? As soon as I set foot in the lumber aisle, I became invisible! It was really instant and rather startling!

The U.S. military should look into this!

The secret to a true complete invisibility shield!

A girl in the lumber aisle.

I found that on the tools aisle, I was only partly invisible. If I said, “hey, I need help!” then they could sort of see me. It wasn’t just me either, there was another woman trying to get help regarding a door knob she was considering.

She got the attention of one male employee who condescendingly answered her question then walked away…though she wasn’t done asking questions.

Oh, I did discover that in the gardening section, by the small pink canvas pruning gloves? They could see me fine.

Something about hardware and lumber.

Weird, huh?

My next errand was to go to the post office. A gift ordered online had arrived. Yay!

Well, it being mid-December and at lunch, the post office was crazy busy. We use a very small postal annex with only two employees, so that makes things an even bigger holdup.

It was a very, very long line.

Well, you know, this is to be expected this time of year.

Except for the cranky old man and the horribly cranky old woman in line behind me.

The old man kept cranking about how he can’t believe the lines and he had been there and hour before and the line was this long so he went and had lunch to wait it out and wouldn’t you know it the line is still long and how can this be!

You get my drift.

Then the lady chimed in.

“There are just too many people these days. Too. Many. People. You know why it is so crowded don’t you? Because of all the immigrants. Obama keeps letting all of those immigrants in. They all want the free stuff so those damn people keep coming in and it is just too crowded!”

Uh. WHAT!?!?!?

Crazy old bat continued on that line of rant for a bit longer, then went back to complaining about the line. She said, “Why is there only one person working, where is that [racial epithet redacted] who works here?”

I was horrified. Absolutely stunned into a horrified shock.

Evidently the “spirit of the season” is discrimination, racism and anger.

Once I picked up my package, I got in my car and made my way out of the parking lot. As I waited to turn out into traffic, I had the audacity to wait for a group of six kids from the nearby high school walking by on lunch break.

Audacity because the evidently impatient man behind me felt I shouldn’t have paused. So he laid on the horn and yelled “GOOOO!”

Well, clearly the spirit of the season has infected me as well, because I unrolled my window and shouted “WHAT THE F–K IS YOUR PROBLEM!?!?”

Tis the season to be assholish, fa la la la, la la la la……

Look at me pass on the season’s cheer….

I think I’ll hunker down at the house for the remainder of the year. It seems better that way.