whistlestop caboose

The view from the back.

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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Candle House in Old Town with luminarias

This is the Old Town in Albuquerque, New Mexico, one of a series by Joel on Flickr, which show a magical town at Christmas! I suggest you visit the collection.

I lingered over these because they reminded me of two bits of family Christmas history. When my oldest son was 12 I thought the time had come to import to Switzerland a tradition from Dubuque, Iowa, where I grew up. I hunted everywhere for brown paper bags, not a household item in Switzerland, I found small votive candles easily, but they were smaller than what I had in mind - never mind, I thought, they'll work. I found sand for sandboxes, not particularly cheap because it has to be clean enough for children to accidentally eat, but the only other sand is the kind we put on roads, and it comes in extremely large bags.

On a wild, blustery, snowy December evening my son and I trudged out to the front of the house, a relatively steep slope in the middle of the Swiss Alps, and we tried to plant brown bags with sand and candles. They threatened to blow away - some did - so we dug holes for them. By the time we lit one or two, previously lit ones had gone out. One bag caught fire and another melted the snow around it, immediately creating an icy waxy mess on the slope which was still there in April. My son, who was too old to wear gloves, he said, began to complain bitterly of the storm.

That was the end of our alpine luminus. But I still remember the beautiful old street we lived on in Dubuque, down a hill, with a turnaround area at the end, Plymouth Court. All the neighbors would get together and fill hundreds of bags with sand and candles, then light the candles and party.

Pure magic.


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