Dixie Darr

My Literary Advent Calendar, Day Five

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2016 at 10:17 am


Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Literary Advent Calendar, Day Five

Dorothy was a California social worker who retired and moved to Santa Fe in the 1940s. Her stories about the then sleepy town and her Hispanic and Indian neighbors captured my imagination and forever ruined the now glitzy and glamorous New Mexico capital for me. I only want to go there if I can go back in time 70 years.

She spent her first Christmas there at the Acoma Pueblo, situated on a mesa 400 feet above the tableland, already a mile above sea level. After traveling 20 miles on a rutted dirt road and hiking to the pueblo at the treeless summit of the mesa, Pillsbury and her friend had to climb a handmade ladder to the third floor of the ancient adobe pueblo for a bountiful feast.

The celebration started with a performance of the Butterfly Dance in a Catholic church built hundreds of years before. As Pillsbury describes in Christmas in the Sky, an essay in the holiday-themed book, Star Over Adobe:

“Nearer and nearer came the pounding of the drums. Men and women dancers filed in. Chanters armed with rattle gourds huddled around the roaring drums. The woman dancers gave a strangely oriental effect with crimson circle of paint on each brown cheek. Hair fresh-washed in amole root hung to their waists. Over their handwoven ceremonial dresses, they wore gorgeous shawls of blue, orange, and cerise satin. Their knee-high white boots twinkled. Around their necks and on their wrists and fingers they wore a glittering wealth of old silver and turquoise ornaments.”

“Dancing, chanting and the pounding of drums and the rattle of gourds went on hour after hour.” Then followed the lighting of candles and offering treasures to the baby in the manger.

Different cultures find ways to weave the Christmas story into their own traditions and customs. Seeing them teaches us that it isn’t important how we celebrate this cherished holiday, but that we celebrate.

Happy Advent.



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