Candy Monarrez, Operations Manager
Jan. 18, 2018
In late 2016 Nestor and I started talking about these two milestone celebrations. Nestor talked about a piece of jewelry for me. Though that sounded very nice and thoughtful, especially since most of my jewelry had been stolen during a break-in, that was not my idea.
My idea was a trip! Destination Santa Fe, New Mexico! And not just any trip, but a family vacation, over the New Year! So the planning began. In March of 2017, we asked our son Matthew and his wife Emily if they could join us. I reserved our flights and a two bedroom home five blocks from The Plaza in the Historical part Santa Fe.
I kept the destination a secret from Matt and Emily. Every few weeks I would text a clue to the two of them. This was part of the fun and celebration for me. IE It will be cold. We’re not heading North. We’re not heading East. It’s a state capital. We’ll be at a high elevation. They were baffled and intrigued when I finally told them our destination.
Why Santa Fe? It has been on my USA travel wish list for years. A few years ago I ran across two different Facebook pages promoting the destination. I “liked” the pages and began following them. The photos and information about Santa Fe in winter and during the Christmas season were always what drew me in the most.
We departed on December 28th 2017 and returned January 4th 2018. The experience and celebration was far better than I could ever have imagined it would be! The best part was the time spent getting to know my daughter-in-love and our son in his adult life. We laughed often. We all pitched in when there were things that needed doing around the house or decisions to be made as far as where to dine and how we’d spend our time.
The destination did not disappoint either. Santa Fe was everything and more! The holiday traditions and decor were magical. The sightseeing exceptional. Our dining experiences, memorable and delicious.
There is a sense of real community in Santa Fe. New Year’s Eve on The Plaza in Old Town was a good example of this. It was all about family and unity within the three cultures represented. The streets around The Plaza are pedestrian only. There was the universal bar and restaurant scene, along with live music streaming from several different venues. There was hot chocolate and churros. Faralitos along pathways and along the flat rooftops of the adobe buildings. A full moon - WOW! Colorful twinkling lights everywhere.
About 20 minutes prior to midnight, many tourists and even more locals gathered in front of a small stage on The Plaza. People were introduced, thank yous said. The Mayor, Javier Gonzales, sang Hallelujah before giving his proclamation to the city. (This genuine act of his really spoke to me.) Together we sang our National Anthem, led by Damian McGinty of Glee. A minute or two before midnight, the Plaza went dark. Gasp!
About that time, a large billboard type sign, covered in large colored light bulbs, along with the red sun symbol of the Zia on a field of yellow, like the New Mexico flag, and with 2018 at the very top in white flashing lights, was raised high above the Plaza (like the ball in Times Square).
10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 - Happy New Year!!! Besitos galore. There was a mixture of Mexican music as well as pop music playing over the speakers. Then the fireworks began. Once they were over - zap!, all the twinkling holiday lights were on again in one magical moment. Another gasp!
I will never forget this particular New Year’s Eve. Nor my time of personal celebrations shared with my husband and our kids!
Other highlights of our five night, four day adventure included:
A visit to the St. Francis Cathedral
GLOW...an artful illumination of nature at Santa Fe Botanical Gardens
Sante Fe’s Farmers Market at The Railyard Arts District
The meaning of Christmas Chile
Sopaipillas and honey
Brunch at Box Car Bar & Grill (it was all about how you were sitted during the NFL games that made this place unique)
My homemade New Mexico Green Chile Stew (without using a recipe, just knowing the ingredients)
Our road trip to Taos and the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge on New Years Day
and MEOW WOLF...a unique and immersive art installation with multimedia elements & a mysterious narrative throughout. Some might just call it weird!
In the end, we ran out of time. We didn’t see everything there was to see, nor experience all of the recommended restaurants. But we gave it our all as we also enjoyed some down time watching NFL football games, a couple of College Bowl games, and even included an evening at the movies to see the new Star Wars movie.
Though we didn’t get snow, and that was part of the draw for me,
winter looks amazing on Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico!
What milestones will you be celebrating this next year?
Set a goal and make it happen! Goals are what take you places.
P.S. Matt and Emily are great travelers. I look forward to our next family vacation! AND I am looking for that piece of jewelry