An Oldie but a Goodie

This post first appeared on the blog in December 11, 2007. It’s one of my all time favorite posts. Fixed a few broken links, made some minor edits and away we go! Everything is still very true. Happy Holidays!

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 was the one to make 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 folded bag and every candle and every small emergency when the bag caught on fire in the wind. I miss real luminarias.

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 wwent to Winrock Mall to shop, I’d always swing by the Bugg house to take a look. No one does lights like the Buggs did.

4) Neighbors bringing over a plate of fresh made tamales as a Christmas gift. When there are three generations of Hispanic women in a kitchen with some masa and some shredded pork, magic happens. Yum! I also miss that people would bring tamales to work in a cooler and sell them to coworkers. I was always good for a 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. Growin up, 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 aren’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……

*sigh* Now I’m homesick.

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?

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  • Anonymous


    I married a beautiful gringa. Consequently she didn't have the advantage of eating New Mexican food while she grew up. She's very good at cooking New Mexican food but since she's deficient in flavor memories she has to rely on my memories.

    This year we're having a discussion about bizcochitos. My contention is that I don't remember them dusted with cinnamon and sugar and she prefers them with it.

    My sainted aunt Ester made them sweet by caramelizing the edges in the oven. Indeed she rolled them with thinner edges so that that part would caramelize first. Mary likes them with added sugar and cinnamon.

    How do you remember them, with or without?

    Merry Christmas,

  • Karen Fayeth

    Ephraim – I've seen them both with and without, but the more traditional biscochitos don't have the cinnamon sugar. Personally, I've made them both ways.

    I've also seen the thin edges as you speak of. I do try to roll them thin because I think they taste better that way, thin and browned extra in the oven (sort of as your Aunt Ester did).

    As a thought, I'm making some sugar cookies tonight and they have frosting on them. The Good Man prefers them without frosting, so I do a half and half. Maybe Mary can do similar for your biscochos?

    Merry Christmas!!

  • Dirty Butter

    I thoroughly enjoyed sharing your Christmas memories with you!

    May you and your family enjoy the Blessings of Jesus in this holy time of year.

  • Karen Fayeth

    Dirty Butter – It was a beautiful holiday. Thank you for your wonderful wishes.

    Onward to the New Year!!

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