Old Town Christmas, 2020

It was hard to figure out what image to use for this week. On the one hand, I wanted to show the magical beauty of a New Mexican Christmas Eve and on the other, I wanted to show the reality of this year’s Christmas Eve. Which didn’t feel very magical at all.

I split the difference with this series of photos. The middle photo is from 2017 and shows a water bottle tree that’s been in the Patio Market courtyard many years … but not 2020. The Old Town merchants must’ve all agreed, along with the city and the church, not to do luminarias this year (or perhaps the city or state mandated that). Whichever, there were no luminarias in Old Town. If it had been as crowded as it usually is on Christmas Eve, it would’ve been a super-spreader event for sure, so I’m glad that people stayed away for that reason. At the same time, all the warmth and good will of Christmas Eve was completely missing. I took photos of luminarias in a nearby neighborhood, and a few of us said “Merry Christmas” to each other through our masks … but it was really quite subdued.

The photo on the left shows two signs at the entrance to the Patio Market courtyard (the lower one reads “Please keep a thoughtful distance while shopping”), and the photo on the right shows one of the few Christmas decorations I noticed in Old Town before it got dark. I thought it was both clever and pathetic.

Which is how Christmas Eve felt to me on the whole: a pale, pathetic facsimile of the real deal. Maybe next year.