Happy Holidays….


To prepare the Christmas crib, there are numerous santons markets organised throughout the Provence region from mid-November on. The real santon, deriving from the Provençal word “santoun” meaning little saint, is handmade from clay by craftsmen with a love of their art. Santons must then take on a human aspect, with a personalised appearance, character and even social status.

They represent the inhabitants of the village visiting the Christmas crib: pétanque players, fishmongers, doctors, bakers, shepherds, etc. Here the traditional crib is in fact an ideal model of a Provençal village and its inhabitants. This tradition is present in each department of Provence but it is particularly strong in the Bouches du Rhône.


This season, I have reflected on the many Christmases my sons and I spent at our family ranch in Southern Arizona — and our Christmas tree.

Our Christmas season began with the search, cutting and placement of the Christmas tree.    It would be dragged into the far end of the living room where a metal container was set inside a wooden barrel.  Two people would hold the tree in position, then we would position large rocks in the barrels to hold the tree in place.  This was after much turning, tilting to get it just so, little to the left/little to the right, branches trimmed, and eventually there was a symbiotic relationship between barrels/rocks/and a very large tree.

Boxes were brought into the living room, lids dusted off, ornaments unwrapped, and we decorated the tree.  All the while, my mother sat on the couch directing us where the ornament should be hung, etc.  ….   as only mothers can do(!).  We did not have solid blues or silvers or gold ornaments – the tree was an eclectic mix of ornaments bought or made by family members over the years.  These brightly colored pieces were individual elements of the jigsaw puzzle representing our family story.  Decorated pine cones, Mexican tin cut outs, thin glass orbs, silver stars, Oriental tassels, Swedish straw houses, woolly sheep, wooden cows, glittery angels, golden carousels with “Charlie 1974” “Michael 1969” — we’d laugh and remember when we got this one or that one, who was where at what time, where we lived — and slowly, our tree of memories was complete.  A small moment in time..

I wish you all a season filled with remembrances of those special moments in your life and a smile lights your face.

Let’s carry that smile with us …

Happy Holidays and Peace for the New Year



4 thoughts on “Happy Holidays….

  1. Awesome Christmas memories from the days in the Big House. I used to love hiking around the Canelo hills and (illegally) cutting down the trees. And don’t forget the filling of the basket ornaments with chocolate. Thanks for sharing, Lisa. I hope you’re doing great.


  2. Lisa – Your memories of cutting, positioning “just so” with the rocks, and decorating the tree sounds so familiar. I know a couple years after the kids were gone that I made a NM tree – with red satin balls and red satin chiles. Well, the kids came home and wanted all the “memory ornaments” on the tree, including the ones they made, ones we had made together, and the ones from various family and friends that were homemade. Yes, it is truely a memory tree. Here is wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I send my love.


  3. I am glad to learn you were not the only family who had to deal with rocks in a bucket. I was the only son and it usually was my job to set the tree up after many anxiety filled moments of a mother who always wanted it turn another way and then having to readjust the rocks to compensate for the never too strait trunk.
    Great to see you are well and enjoying your time away from the states.
    john juan


  4. It was so nice to read this memory, Lisa. And I love remembering your mom on Christmas morning with a stack of gifts beside her saying about each one, “Oh this present is so lovely! Do I really have to open it?” My favorite day of the whole year on the ranch was always tree-cutting day — somehow even more fun than decorating once it was finally up in the house. We love reading about your continuing adventures and can only imagine the picture-postcard Christmas scenes you probably have all around you. Bob, Tom and I send you lots of love and wishes that you’ll have a warm and happy Christmas.



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