Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - — Jen­nifer Levin

The Tum­ble­weed Christ­mas Tree and Shrines and Won­ders: The Pil­grim’s Guide to Santa Fe and North­ern New Mex­ico

Molly, the young pro­tag­o­nist of The Tum­ble­weed Christ­mas Tree, has never un­der­stood why Santa Fe is con­sid­ered desert un­til one dry De­cem­ber when her mother tells her they will not be able to af­ford a Christ­mas tree that year. When she no­tices that there are tum­ble­weeds blow­ing around town in­stead of snow, she sug­gests that they col­lect a few and dec­o­rate them in­stead. She even finds out how much a string of lights costs be­fore pre­sent­ing the idea to her mother. The slim, bright book, written by Brid­get Thomas and il­lus­trated by Jessie Baca, is both timeless and timely, mix­ing many Santa Fe hol­i­day tra­di­tions with a re­al­is­tic story of a fi­nan­cially strug­gling fam­ily. “The news about the Christ­mas tree didn’t make Molly feel sad or dis­ap­pointed,” Thomas writes. “She truly didn’t mind. The teach­ers at Holy Faith School had al­ways said that Christ­mas wasn’t re­ally about trees and dec­o­ra­tions. It was about cel­e­brat­ing Je­sus’ birth­day and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing God’s pres­ence within us, not just the presents un­der the three.” The Tum­ble­weed Christ­mas Tree is avail­able on and at The Shop – A Christ­mas Store (116 E. Palace Ave., 505-570-3958).

Mar­ion Am­berg ex­plores lo­cal Catholic tra­di­tions in Shrines and Won­ders: The Pil­grim’s Guide to Santa Fe and North­ern New Mex­ico (Amor Deus Pub­lish­ing), in which she de­tails such lo­cales as the Loretto Chapel and the San Miguel Mis­sion, as well as stops along the High Road to Taos and else­where. The book func­tions much like a hik­ing guide, with bits and pieces of in­for­ma­tion about what vis­i­tors can ex­pect to see at each des­ti­na­tion. Color pho­tographs and a glossary of terms make this a reader-friendly guide for any­one in­ter­ested in vis­it­ing old churches, or sim­ply in the geog­ra­phy, art, and ar­chi­tec­ture of the re­gion.

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