Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Christmas Memory

My grandmother was a native New Mexican who barely spoke English. She attended a tiny Spanish speaking church in her neighborhood built of adobe bricks by the pastor who lived on the same property. My family went to church with her only a handful of times in my early life, but the last time we went together was at Christmas.

My sisters and I were invited to participate in the classic Christmas pageant. I was eight or nine years old at the time, and spoke only about eight or nine words of Spanish, but we memorized our lines in English from the story of the Nativity told in the second chapter of Luke.

We wore angel wings, and tinsel crowns, and carried butterflies inside at the thought of facing a room full of mostly strangers who sang carols in a different tongue of impossible familiarity.

 My part was verse eight through fourteen. Passages which have never left me: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. . . ."

I remember little else except relief at being done, and flinging off the bed sheet of an angel costume after it was all over. We would have met later at my grandmother's house for food, which one Christmas included a roasted goat, its whole head ceremoniously planted on the table.

Without question, that year is among my most vivid childhood memories of Christmas. My father died of illness not long after. Though we saw my grandmother regularly, we never again went to the little country church.

My tiny grandmother (five feet tall, with a long salt and pepper braid wrapped around her head) lived to ninety-four, after two marriages, eighteen children, of which my father was the first, and many, many grandchildren. I never had a real conversation with her. She was a quiet person, as shy of my speech as I was of hers.

But I wonder whatever became of old Senor Gutierrez's church, (adobe structures have a way of simply melting into the ground), and his lovely kind-faced wife who shepherded us into their own flock that year, and offered up a Christmas memory to last a lifetime. . . .

I'm off soon to visit my own grandchildren.
 I hope you're making merry! And making memories too!
Ciao! for now!


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Custom Comforts said...

What a sweet and touching memory. I felt like I was reading a Christmas book so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

Julie Harward said...

Thank you for sharing such a sweet memory. Your grandmother was the same height as mine and mine wrapped her head in a long braid too. Love your fireplace and lights. I sent you a friend request on Face book...have a wonderful time with your grands. :D

My Shabby Streamside Studio said...

Very sweet holiday memory, a true slice of southwest Americana!



Sharon said...

I loved hearing your Christmas memory story . You mantel is lovely !I love the (Santos ? ) statue , she is so pretty.

Pamela Gordon said...

Thanks for sharing your beautiful Christmas story. Your mantle looks very pretty with the minilights. Blessings, Pamela

Ivy and Elephants said...

What gorgeous pictures and the sweet memories that they inspire. I'd love to have you share them with us at "What's It Wednesday", linking now.

Audrey said...

Beautiful memories and mantel...thank you for sharing!

Bella said...

Hi J,
Now that is a beautiful story! People work so hard to create perfect moments, when the ones kept in our heart just happen...
and... I love your starry mantle, the rays of light on the lights are dreamy:-))
Enjoy the Grandkids:-)

A Cottage Muse said...

Oh my I love this story...what a wonderful memory!

LyndaKay said...

What a magical season this is! Loved reading your recollection of a long ago Christmas. Aren't grandmothers special? Merry Christmas to you and thank you for the wonderful shared photographs and tips on decorating.

Cozy Little House said...

What a beautiful story! I so enjoyed reading it.

Ozma of Odds said...

...beautiful ribbons of memories, tied to our hearts...

~ LOVE ~ your santos!!

enjoy your grandbabies!
xo, Rosemary

Marydon said...

Life's most precious gifts ... memories.
Enjoy your trip & visit with the kid-lings.

Have a beautiful week ~

PS Don't forget our GIVEAWAY

jeanetteann said...

Jaqueline,they are such moving,beautiful memories. You are so blessed. The images are so beautiful too. xx jeanetteann

Vintage Gal said...

What a lovely story and such wonderful memories for you ~ thanks for sharing ;-)

Sandy aka Doris the Great said...

What a beautiful memory; you had me right there in that little church. Merry Christmas.

Sherry said...

What a sweet memory. A place and a time very impressionable on a young child. I remember my most memorable Christmas at about that age too. Lovely mantel. Have a great week!

Suburban Princess said...

What a nice story! I wonder if that's the most magical age for all of us. I have some special memories from around the same time.

18 children!?

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

What a lovely memory.

Carole said...

What a lovely memory of Christmas and your grandmother. I too don't remembered a conversation with my granny either.
I wonder what happened to that little church. It's too bad you couldn't locate where it stood.

ps also thank you for the Pandora suggestion.....signed up today.

Carole said...

What a lovely memory of Christmas and your grandmother. I too don't remembered a conversation with my granny either.
I wonder what happened to that little church. It's too bad you couldn't locate where it stood.

ps also thank you for the Pandora suggestion.....signed up today.

Audrey Pettit said...

Such a beautiful, sweet post! Thanks for sharing!

Jann Olson said...

What a wonderful Christmas memory! Not too sure about the goats head. Not sure If I would want to remember that. Losing your father at a young age I'm sure was difficult. Mine passed away when I was only 9 months. Of course, I was too young to realize it. Have a wonderful holiday with family.

Marlis said...

What an absolutely wonderful memory! I loved that you shared that priceless story with us. Be blessed.. xo marlis

Jen said...

Beautiful memories and photographs!

Gypsy Heart said...

Beautiful story! I adore Albuquerque and other areas of NM. Feels like "home" to me ~

Your lights, Santos and decor are beautiful! I'm a new follower and so happy I found your blog. I look forward to getting to know you.

Stop by and say hi when you can!

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