Friday, December 13, 2013

What's Making Me Happy: December 13

I am much happier this Friday than I was last Friday, because last Friday I was freaking out about Luminaria Day. Now that it is over, I can talk about it; in fact, I'm adding it to my Happy-Making-Things because I am happy it's over and it went well.

My daughter plays in our city's youth symphony, and their biggest fundraiser is this luminaria sales event, which culminates every December. Luminarias, in case you don't know, are Christmas lanterns. (In El Norte, they are called "farolitos," which is what I still want to call them.) They're brown paper bags weighted with sand, each holding a votive candle. People line their walkways with them, cities use them to decorate downtown plazas. They're a lovely, subtle light, prettier and softer than glittering electric bulbs.


See how nice they are? I nicked this image from the web — ours are even nicer. These luminarias only have a single fold at the top: bad. The folds are all different widths: bad. Our youth symphony's luminarias are all double-folded at the top, and the folds are all the same width. The kids (and their parents) spend the weeks leading up to delivery day carefully folding all these bags ... our own family folded hundreds of dozens of bags. Then the kids (and their parents) make the sales calls. On Luminaria Day, all the families assemble the luminarias at one of the ten or so workhouses. This year we were a workhouse. We got a load of sand, bundles of folded paper bags, boxes of candles, and hundreds of delivery trays. Each pre-folded bag was opened, filled with a precise amount of sand, topped with a candle, arranged on a tray, and delivered — by the families, using their own transportation — to each customer's house. We deliver thousands and thousands of luminarias. It's pretty much all volunteer-run, and helps support the kids' tours (this year they are playing at Carnegie Hall!). It's also a huge amount of work.

Sand delivery: now we scoop it in the bags

Assembled luminarias in my garage
Last year's Luminaria Day was so bright and sunny that we were all in short-sleeves by noon. This year, unfortunately, it was freezing. While the day went pretty smoothly, with no serious logistical hiccups, I'm not sure it was exactly enjoyable for any of the volunteers. We were all popsicles by 9 a.m. We did have some lovely warm food, though: all the families brought dishes to share, and we had our traditional green chile stews and posoles to keep us warm inside and out. It was nice to get to know some of the other families better, too. We worked steadily together from 7:30 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m.

The next day was my husband's birthday, and we put up our Christmas tree, so that was two happy-making things in one day. My little four-family spent the day hanging stockings by the fire, singing carols with Bing Crosby on Pandora, and cooking yummy birthday food. (The adults enjoyed some mulled wine.) It was the perfect way to end the weekend.


We have a rather schizophrenic set of Christmas tree ornaments, which is another thing that makes me happy. It gets weirder every year. In this photo you see a cowboy boot, a devil, an angel, a perfectly standard sphere, and (the pièce de résistance) a star-of-David handmade ornament. That one came from my daughter's kindergarten class ... I guess the teacher was being ecumenical? I think it's awesome.

So that's my week in happiness. How is your week going?

10 comments:

  1. Steph, can I just say I loved everything about this happy post?

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    1. Yay! It's nice to see you here ... I've missed you!

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  2. My mom used to make those sometimes when I was a kid. Until this one year when it was really windy; she never put them out again.

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    1. They can be a little frustrating in the wind, it's true.

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  3. I love the idea of Christmas lanterns although I can't quite figure out how I could keep from burning my house down if I had one due to clumsiness.

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    1. People put them on their roofs, too! It does seem dangerous, but we have remarkably few fires around here as a result.

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  4. Oh, my, goodness. That's a lot of luminarias. So beautiful though. Don't see much of that where I live (Colorado), but sometimes. I've been wanting to spend Christmas in Santa Fe one of these years. Just never seem to have the time to do it.

    So glad you survived the filling of the luminarias! And good luck to your daughter at Carnegie Hall. :)

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  5. Luminarias are gorgeous! All the people on our street used to line their driveways and curb area with them on Christmas Eve years ago. You sure put a LOT of work into it, but Carnegie Hall? Wow! Totally worth all the work!

    Our tree ornaments were schizophrenic, too. That's the very best kind.

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  6. Wow, you've been working hard! I hope you get to relax a bit now.

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  7. I love the idea of luminary night. So beautiful & quite simple to construct; it's a great fundraiser.

    Your Christmas tree ornaments are wonderfully eclectic, just how I like them!

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