This story was written with help from Loveida Cisneros.
Mayo Archuleta is 93 years old and lives in Cerro, New Mexico. We asked her about her childhood during the Christmastime in northern New Mexico.
“My sweetest memories of Christmas are engrained only in my heart. I remember, very fondly how exciting it was living through Christmas when I was small,” she says.
When asked about the memories of Mis Crismas, a tradition unique to northern New Mexico, she says, “I remember me and my brothers and sisters would wake up very early. We would dress in layers and would be out the door very early to search for bags or sacks which we could fill up.”
Mayo recalls there were no cars back then, so they would set out on foot. “We would be rushing from home to home with our sacks or pillowcases. When we would knock on doors, we would say in unison “Mis Crismas! Mis Crismas!!” When doors would open, goodies including hard candies, peanuts, and fruit would pour in “if we were lucky,” Mayo says.
She recalls there was so much snow and temperatures were frigid, but that never stopped them from Mis Crisman adventures. “Sometimes, if we went to a relative’s home, they would invite us in for warm cider or hot cocoa. I love walnuts and I can remember trading my candy for walnuts,” she says.
Mayo says she and her siblings didn’t get store-bought gifts, but knowing the family could be together, and the kids could ask for goodies on Christmas morning was such a treat.
When asked about her thoughts about Christmas today, she says “so many people get caught up in gifts and the hustle and bustle to make Christmas perfect, they forget what is important. Being together with your loved ones is a gift and that is what’s important. Sometimes you can share a meal, not even a fancy meal, just a meal that is shared in love. That’s a blessing for others and for yourself.”
When asked if there was anything else she felt was important to share, she says “never let go of your faith and always keep your daily prayers.”