Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Two Graces Christmas Carol or It's a Wonderful Life in Taos

On Christmas Eve the family tradition was to go to my Grandmother’s for dinner, (sometimes it was even just Chinese or pizza takeout). Then many years ago, (around when I was 11 or 12) we arrived at home after Christmas eve at Grandma’s to find the door of our house left wide open. Thieves had broken in and stolen Christmas, they stole the presents, they stole the kitchen appliances and the TV, (this was pre-VCR & DVD players). Yes, Cindy-Loo-Hoo, the Grinch who stole Christmas was very real and living in my hometown, and on this particular year ‘The Grinch’ chose my family to loot and scoot it all out the front door. Somehow my Mom & Dad rallied and pulled off Christmas with presents, food and festivities. How they did it and what they did, isn’t what I remember, it’s that they provided us with Christmas no matter what the circumstances. This may have even been the year we started going to the movies on Christmas day. Going off to the movie theater was not a great expense those days but a treat nonetheless. The horror of arriving home and finding everything stolen stays with you, even now.

So as this has been on my mind lately, maybe that’s what’s got me in a funk this year. I suppose what I mean to say is that I have yet to catch any of the “Holiday Spirit”. What in the world is that supposed to mean? I don’t have the energy to pull it off this year, no tree, no decorations, it’s all just a bit too much pressure. Then too, a lack of snow (and a lack of shoppers) makes it seem less than Christmas time. This is the slowest season I’ve ever seen in Taos for businesses! I ask people whether or not they have a Christmas Tree, and sadly many just don’t.

I don’t really need gifts at Christmas time, I have a tendency to buy what I want for myself. Sure I may not be able to afford a flat screen TV right now, but our busted 8 year old television still works more or less. I don’t really think about Christmas gifts all that much, if and when I buy something with someone else in mind I tend to give it to them when I see them, rather than hang on to it, hide it, and wrap it up for them as a “Christmas gift”. Yet some of my favorite Christmas presents have been Christmas tree ornaments, they remind me of who gave them to us, or where and when we bought them for ourselves.
Another aspect of this year’s Christmas was Holly had planned to visit her parents in Iowa, and when she was initially planning her trip, it seemed to me that it would be during Christmas, which really had me worried. I just couldn’t imagine having Christmas without her. Thankfully she arranged to visit them a couple weeks before and is home here with me. About 15 years ago, we began dating at Christmas-time. One mid December day I was telling her that I planned to go and get a tree the following day. She told me that she and her roommates were having a tree trimming party at her place and that she’d love it if I could make it. It was to be a dinner party and they would be making home-made ornaments. That evening she went home to tell her friends that they were now having a tree trimming party and that she had invited me over on this ruse. For my own deceit in this I designed and practiced making an ornament so that when I arrived it would be a matter of effortless ornament making on my part. Until very recently I had no idea about this whole plot. Yet, that was the Best Christmas and nothing else can match that.

I’m asked what was the best Christmas dinner I remember? My response is an array of fresh fish on Christmas eve at my Mom’s aunt Phyllis’ house, topped off with baked stuffed lobster, and all the cookies I could eat. A Sicilian/American tradition, lots of fresh fish for Christmas eve. In reality the best Christmas dinner is not what there was to eat, it’s who was there and the memories of family and friends. Floating around my head are some great memories.

Lately, friends have come by with a present for Holly & I, or mailed us a card, which has really meant a lot to me, so thank you one and all. Maybe Christmas cards and gift giving is a way of saying thank you, I’ve been thinking of you, you mean a lot to me, let’s stay connected and stay in touch. So, Merry Christmas, after all…
Photo Credits: All Photographs are by Robert Cafazzo taken within the last 8 years "Deer at Mabel Dodge Luhan House First Snow" this statue has been stolen and is missing to this day if you know of it in someone's yard please report it to Mabel Dodge House and the Taos Police, thank you
"Aspens in Snow"
"Holly in Upper Los Colonias After the Snow"
"Taos Pueblo Christmas Eve Bonfires" Please note, it is no longer acceptable to take photographs at Taos Pueblo during Christmas Eve, even if it's of you and your friends.
"Bent Street Christmas Tree, Taos, NM"


  1. no cards, no presents but I do have a tiny tree!... buon natale! xx's

  2. Caterina, Merry Christmas!!! e buon natale...! Love you!


  3. wrote a long empathetic reply yesterday, with sprinklings of sicilian christmas ravioli, but didn't post. who knows why. too much to rewrite....but we're always very low profile, unadorned, and credit card wise during these holiday dazes...

  4. Robert, I feel like hearing those memories of christmas past, and the sweet story of you and holly, are what warms our heart. Having that warmth at a time of year when everything around us is cold and dormant(sp)----that for me makes christmas.
    Charlie and I look forward to seeing both of you in 2011!!