Christmas in Santa Fe

December 24

This year Christmas was different. Normally I drive to Oklahoma City and spend the holidays with my mom's side of the family, but this year we decided to meet in the middle. Santa Fe, New Mexico is an awesome little city that has art EVERYWHERE. Seriously. No matter which street you find yourself on there will always be something interesting, unique, and beautiful to look at.

The people of Santa Fe love their dogs. If you're a dog person like I am, you'll have plenty of opportunities to pet some pooches. Seriously folks, I think I have a problem..

Inside the city center plaza you will find some interesting characters. One of the city's most beloved locals, Tom "Doc" Murray, passed away a few days ago at age 77 from natural causes. He would sit on his bench and answer any questions thrown his way. He was extremely knowledgable of the history of Santa Fe and loved to inform curious tourists. Doc's appearance made some tourists hesitant to speak to him, probably because he was always dressed in ragged clothes with fur poking out ever which way. I once asked him two years ago "how many animals are you wearing right now?" He gave me a stern look and quickly answered "eleven." 

The bench Doc used to sit in has now become a memorial site. Flowers, fruit, unlit cigarettes and bottles of his favorite drink, Dr. Pepper, are displayed at the base of a nearby tree. 

Doc is just one example of the many colorful people that hang their hat in Santa Fe. After paying my respects at the memorial, I walked towards the center of the square and met a nice man named Calvin. He was working diligently on some wood pieces nailed together, making an art piece that resembles a bird. Calvin left his life in North Carolina and headed west a few months ago and so far Santa Fe seems to be a good fit for him. I loved his tiger beanie. Calvin and Hobbes comes to mind... 

Next up are the churches. Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is one of the city's most iconic cathedrals. The building was constructed from 1869 to 1886 on top of the remains of an older adobe church that was destroyed in 1680 during the Pueblo Revolt. I've shot this cathedral before, twice actually, and I had never been inside. This year I wasn't about to repeat myself, and I'm so glad I did. (Some of the photos below are from my earlier visits during the summer.)

In case you didn't catch your church fix, don't worry, about a mile away lies another gem. The San Miguel Mission was built from 1610 to 1626 and claims to be the oldest church in America. Later it was damaged during the Pueblo Revolt but was patched up in 1710 upon the Spanish soldiers' request. You know that feeling when you walk inside somewhere really old and immediately feel you're connected with history? Yeah...it felt like that. 

It's now nearing five o'clock in the evening, and the crowds are growing quickly. I can see my breath in the crisp and cold air as shop and gallery owners light their luminarias- paper bags with candles inside- to get in the traditional New Mexican Christmas spirit. 

An hour later the entire town is glowing orange punctuated with a deep blue sky.  

Santa Fe's rich culture and unique art style aren't going anywhere. Every Christmas Eve the New Mexican luminarias ignite to transform this relatively tiny town into a glowing magical masterpiece; there's really nothing like it and I'm grateful to have experienced this beautiful tradition.  

Merry Christmas!