Far from Home for the Holidays: More Stories
More stories from readers recalling holidays spent in unfamiliar surroundings.
Here are a few more stories we received on the “Far from Home for the Holidays” theme that we weren’t able to print in the magazine.
Memorable Christmas in New Mexico
I eagerly joined my husband, Chuck, in 1952 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was stationed at the Sandia Army base as Corporal in the Ordnance branch of the Army.
The Southwest was a part of the United States I’d never traveled before, and stepping off the train in Albuquerque opened my eyes. As far as I could see there was brown wasteland desert, and massive mountains surrounded the city. A rush of heat caught in my breath as I realized I wasn’t in Minnesota anymore.
We lived off base among other servicemen and their wives in row houses nestled at the foot of the Sandia Mountains. Rain didn’t come often, but when it did, it brought torrents of water down the mountainsides, washing snakes into the vicinity of our row houses. Luckily, we managed to keep them from getting inside. Sand storms were frequent, and I swept sand, which blew in under the doors and poorly sealed windows, out of the house daily.
We made many friends living in the row houses. Couples were there from all different parts of the country, and we were intrigued by all of the accents. We traveled to many places when the men had leave or a weekend pass. We enjoyed visiting the art galleries in Santa Fe, picnicking in the mountains and driving to the Grand Canyon. Our group became very close.
Having friends made the thought of the upcoming holidays a little easier to reflect upon. At Thanksgiving, one couple prepared a turkey in a paper bag. That was a method I hadn’t seen before, and I questioned the procedure. Much to my surprise, though, the turkey was deliciously moist and evenly browned. The rest of us brought side dishes, and we had an outstanding dinner.
The approach of my first Christmas away from home made me sad. I was used to having snow underfoot while doing my holiday shopping. It was customary to see snow drifts piled high in front of houses and to see children happily building snowmen or tossing snowballs. What would Christmas be like this year?
I tried to get into the spirit of the holidays, but it was difficult. Not only did I miss my family, but I also missed our holiday traditions.
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