Our first Christmas in the Land of Enchantment offered many new and uplifting experiences to enjoy and carry in our hearts forever.
We were excited to return to our Adobe Inspired Living home in Santa Fe that we purchased, decorated and settled into last summer before being called away in September to check on and repair our seaside island cottage after Hurricane Irma tore through the lower Florida Keys. (Our hurricane story is for another day where I will share about our life in Little Torch Key pre and post Irma).
We arrived in Santa Fe just a few days before Christmas after celebrating each weekend throughout the month of December with family and friends in Florida. It was a fabulous whirlwind of festivities, a Christmas Tree Tour and Holiday Adventure Roadtrip taking us from the Southernmost Point in the U.S. to the Enchanted Southwest.
As we pulled into our driveway on a warm and sunny late December evening our neighbors greeted us warmly as did this fabulous sunset. We enjoyed the next week entertaining or being entertained by our kind neighbors and friends and newly acquainted family, sitting by the fire sharing holiday cheer and admiring the unique Christmas trees in each home. We also ventured around town most evenings to experience the sights and sounds of the holiday season in this City Different.
Our next door neighbors trees proved to be quite creative and inspiring to my decorator spirit.
We hit the ground running in bliss preparing for Christmas by stringing strands of red and green chile lights at our entrance and decorating the interior with treasures found tucked away in several totes for the past 10 years.
What a kick it was to unwrap special ornaments from our travels and gifts from my late daughter to decorate our very mod tree.
One morning we woke up to a beautiful dusting of snow and in child-like wonder I enjoyed the view outside each door of our home. The front door, back door, sides and upstairs balcony each gave a differing vantage point of holiday cheer and vivid skies.
A favorite restaurant offering great live music as well as tasty food, Cowgirl BBQ on Guadalupe Street was the place to be a few days before Christmas for a festive evening. We enjoyed a dinner and a bit of dancing to my cousin’s band, J.J. and the Hooligans.
On Christmas Eve we joined in a beloved Santa Fe tradition of strolling the historic Canyon Road art district after dark to take in the spectacular view of the farolitos which are small paper bags illuminated with votive candles lining the streets and rooftops of shops and galleries for several miles of lighted beauty. Throughout the walk there were opportunities to visit a few of the stunning galleries and to warm up around the outdoor fires while joining in with the carolers on this festive night.
Afterwards we left the crowds and continued walking toward downtown and found ourself at the historic Drury Hotel bar for a glass of champagne and a small plate of fresh and delicious jicama and avocado tacos while making friends and toasting in the holiday.
Our first Christmas Day ever, that we were alone during our life together after twenty years of marriage was intimate and sweet as we sat by a roaring fire with our yellow lab, Autumn listening to Christmas music, opening a few special gifts and expressing our love and gratitude for each other and this wondrous life we are blessed to live.
This was a different Christmas as most of our family was not available to share the day with us and so as part of our 20th anniversary celebration we made the decision to be adventurous in our holiday plans and travel to New Mexico for the second time in my life to be away from Florida and the first to be away from family on Christmas.
Until this year, every holiday season except one was celebrated around the palm trees in the Florida Sunshine. Once about 10 years ago we celebrated Christmas at home with my stepson and daughter-in-law in the high country mountains of Crested Butte, Colorado providing the only white Christmas experience of my entire life. Since then I have experienced plenty of cold and snowy winters with snow totals as high as 40 feet for the season in this charming little ski town, but only one white Christmas.
On Christmas Day 2016, I was overcome with the heavy emotions of grief while battling the beginning of a cold and trying to survive the first Christmas since my daughter’s death in July of 2016. This year, I felt her presence around me, but in a more peaceful and joyful manner. Tears were still shed on Christmas Day, especially after I hung up the phone with my son and daughter-in-law wishing us a Merry Christmas from her parents home in North Carolina.
Christmas Dinner this year was a joyous occasion in Albuquerque, NM at the home of our new friends, someone whom my husband Bob has worked with online for several years but just met in person last summer. He and his beautiful wife are a bundle of good energy and enthusiasm and their family is sweet and friendly. We were treated to an Italian Family Holiday Feast, beginning with piping hot, delicious servings of lasagna followed by roasted turkey with all the accompanying side dishes, as well as Canadian ham. It was a relatively warm evening allowing for the enjoyment of sparkling wine and appetizers on the back veranda overlooking their beautiful open view and the mountains in the distance.
A few days after Christmas we enjoyed another exceptional day and evening evening beginning with a beautiful breakfast at Joe’s Dining before grocery shopping to restock on fresh & healthy ingredients for a busy week.
Later a trip downtown to the Santa Fe Plaza was on my wish list. I was not prepared for the the stunning display of colorfully decorated trees that fill the plaza with brilliance. It is breathtakingly beautiful and provides pure joy to walk through this vivid fairytale experience of twinkling lights in every shade abundantly designed in the trees. The church at the end of the road on San Francisco of St.Francis of Assisi is brilliantly decorated and beacons one to come inside to take notice of the true meaning of Christmas.
A visit to the La Fonda Hotel in every season is a beautiful getaway. At Christmastime their large tree and expertly detailed gingerbread house are featured in the expansive yet cozy lobby while guests enjoy the ambiance in sitting areas throughout the festive brightly lit space.
Our next stop for the evening was for dinner with a family of five that I have been looking forward to for several months. It was with my family who I learned about just before moving to Santa Fe last summer. After the last remaining elder on my dad’s side of the family, my Aunt Carole heard that we were moving to SF she mentioned that she and my dad had a cousin who lived there. I was very excited and anxious to meet him and upon contacting him by email and subsequently phone along with a little research we discovered that I had three generations of cousins living in Santa Fe to become acquainted with little by little.
This particular dinner brought all three generations to the table (minus one young man still to meet) as well as the cousin of my generation’s wife who temporarily resides in another state. It was a charming celebratory evening of becoming acquainted with a very wonderful extended family and one I will always treasure as we become closer in this colorful life.
On the evening before New Year’s Eve we were graciously invited to join our neighbors and their family at a local restaurant for a fabulous dinner and a visit to the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens for the Glow Winter Lights ~ Bridging Time ~ An Artful Illumination of Nature.
This was the last to-do on my list for the year and it was a beautiful experience to share with new friends and enjoy a few dances to the band’s swing tunes. A beautiful evening was completed with lots of wine and lively conversation back home in our neighborhood. It was the perfect ending to a challenging year.
Live happy. inspired. colorfully.
Wishing you all the Blessings of a New Year. Cheers!!!