Guest Post by Richard Coltharp, general manager of the Las Cruces Bulletin. This article is from the November 12th, 2010 issue of the Las Cruces Bulletin.
How do you get in the mood for the holidays when it’s still 75 degrees on Election Day? That is a question that has baffled me since I moved to southern New Mexico in 1995. After attending my first Renaissance Arts-Faire Sunday, I think I finally have the answer.
And the answer is the realization that, in Las Cruces anyway, the holidays actually begin in October. That means you can really start get ting in the mood for the holidays around, say, The Whole Enchilada Fiesta.
Here is a list of eight important things to celebrate before we even get to Thanksgiving.
• Cooler weather. We love our constant sun shine here in southern New Mexico, and it’s a key reason we have things like White Sands Missile Range, Holloman Air Force Base and, now, Spaceport America. Great flying weather, whether you’re talking jets, missiles or spaceships. But after being beaten down by the sun’s heat from March through September, we are all ready for a little relief by October, even if it’s tempo rary temperature relief. We’re all familiar with getting teased by a week or so of high 60s or low 70s in early October, only to get another furnace blast or two. Ask any of those folks at RenFaire wearing full armor and headgear how comfortable they were.
But it looks like we’re finally back to consistently crisper days.
• Halloween. It seems in just the past decade Halloween has become a bigger and bigger deal, not just with kids, but adults. Richard Cole at Toucan Market told me once that Halloween has now surpassed the Super Bowl as far as people shopping in his store for party food and beverages. Another confirmation that the late Baby Boomers and GenXers don’t really want to grow up.
• Día de los Muertos. This is more specific to our region of the country and another event that helps make the cultural texture of Las Cruces so rich. Some newcomers don’t really get it. Some think it’s glorifying death. But, precisely the opposite – it is glorifying life. The lives well-lived by our predecessors. And what better way to honor our deceased friends and loved ones than to celebrate and recognize the uniqueness of their souls through art and ritual.
• Election Day. It seems with each passing election cycle, the campaigns get angrier and more hostile. It’s difficult to sort out fact from innuendo. We are bombarded with television and radio ads that are only slightly more sophisticated than our second-grade arguments: “I know you are, but what am I?” Thankfully, candidates save their more positive, thoughtful ads for newspapers. As a longtime newspaper person, I know I’m prejudiced, but I think it’s because candidates know newspaper readers typically don’t fall for attack ads.
Plus, candidates know the printed word still has enormous staying power.
But despite criticisms you may have about the ugly nature of specific candi dates, specific parties, or the whole election process in general, I argue it remains a beautiful thing. It is our democracy in action. We’ve been rocking it for 234 years, and no one has come up with anything better since. Even though early voting has made things more convenient in recent years, I still love nothing better than wak ing up on Election Day, donning my stars and- stripes tie, stepping into that booth and making my voice heard, silently but clearly. I don’t even mind waiting in line, which I actually got to do this year for the first time since 1992.
• Post-Election Mellow-out. I think we all breathe at least a small sigh of relief when the election is finally over, no matter whether our favorite candidates won or lost. We don’t have to hear the annoying ads anymore and we can look forward to our politicians getting on with the business of governing. In my book, every single candidate earns a great deal of admiration for putting him- or herself out there, actively participating in the democratic process. The most distasteful thing to me about Election Day is seeing the number of candidates run ning unopposed. In America, I can choose between Coke, Pepsi and Royal Crown Cola. (And if there’s no RC Cola, I’m writing in Dr Pepper.) Isn’t it much more important that freedom of choice extends to who will lead our people?
• The Mayfield-Cruces game. A packed Ag gie Memorial Stadium on the first Friday in November can only mean one thing: Bulldawgs vs. Trojans. There are only a handful of high school rivalries in the nation that rival this one. And whether the teams are ranked 1-2 in the state, or just having a ho-hum season, it always feels like it’s for all the marbles. This is one of the signature events in Las Cruces, and the winners get bragging rights for a full year, except when the loser gets revenge in the playoffs.
• Renaissance ArtsFaire. The week prior to my first Doña Ana Arts Council Renais sance ArtsFaire, as I was wondering what I might wear, I found myself humming the score to “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and thinking of King Arthur walking, with his trusty servant clap ping coconuts together to make the horse sound. On the actual day of the ArtsFaire, as I was relaxing in the Boy Scouts’ canoe, I saw a group walking the way dressed to the hilt, excellently imitating that very Arthur scene. That and a pastrami sandwich served by Temple Beth-El made my day.
And on top of that, a bald eagle made an appearance.
• Veterans Day. This day clearly lacks the fun and whimsy of some of the others.
But to be sure, perhaps none of the others would exist in this country were it not for the effort and sacrifice of our veterans. It is particularly meaningful in our community, with our active duty military members at White Sands, and the many military retirees who have chosen the Mesilla Valley as their permanent home.
Individually, each of these events are worthy of attention. But collectively, they make up a season, many of them holy days indeed. So welcome to the holiday season. It’s already here.
Richard Coltharp is general manager of the Las Cruces Bulletin. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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