My monthlong vacation sojourn with my family in Santa Fe, N.M., had come to an end. I was both saddened about leaving and anxious to get back home.

On the trip out, I did not make it clear what airport I was flying from so the trip started out with a shock for my friend Evelyn Conner when I told her Raleigh. But we had plenty of time.

The flight itself was probably was the smoothest, quickest one I have ever made to Santa Fe. At the airport, I checked two bags and headed toward my gate, finding that only a few people were going through security. A screener asked if I was 75 yet and I assured him I was and then some, so I was directed to a scanning booth that did not include a hand-held scanner. I did not have to remove my shoes. But I did have to take my laptop and my CPAP machine out of my luggage and put them on the belt. The young man at that area helped me repack them. Everyone was nice and friendly, and I was amazed at how quickly I got through security.

The Southwest Airlines waiting area was only a short distance so I had plenty of time to relax. Because of my age, I pre-boarded. After being greeted by the attendants and crew, I took the first available seat where plenty of legroom was available. An attendant placed my carry-on bags overhead and I was soon greeted by my seatmate. We chatted while waiting to depart, and then, we took the opportunity to nap.

After we landed at Dallas Love Field, I took my time and the co-pilot escorted me into the terminal and directed me to where my next flight would be departing — two gates down. As we were boarding, one of the pilots walked over to a woman in a wheelchair and rolled her down the jetway to the plane. I don’t think I have ever seen that before. When I later commented on it, the attendants told me the pilots often help out that way.

Again, I chose the first seat and was joined by my seatmate who was from Albuquerque, N.M., and involved with U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs schools, which led to an interesting conversation.

At Albuquerque International Sunport, I realized that the airport had been remodeled since my last trip three years ago. A short time after getting my baggage, my grandson Jude arrived, and we were on our way to Santa Fe.

Jude first took me to dinner at a nice Mexican restaurant. We didn’t rush, and I had plenty of time to spend with my oldest grandchild, whom I had not seen in 18 months.

When we arrived home, Anna, my daughter, and Jasmine, my 14-year-old granddaughter, were waiting and got me settled. Anna had to work the next morning so Jasmine and I had the day to get reacquainted. The next couple of weeks, I was pampered and spoiled by Anna and the children.

I made two chocolate cherry cakes, several Key lime pies and two fresh coconut cakes, something I always do for Anna when I am there. Incidentally, when we go shopping, we have to take the bags for our purchases since New Mexico has banned plastic and limits the use of paper bags.

One of my wishes was to have a white Christmas here. Sure enough, on Christmas Eve, we had a beautiful snow. However, it would have been more enjoyable if we hadn’t had to drive about a dozen miles in those conditions to a family dinner at the home of Anna’s mother-in-law, Sylvia.

I always look forward to Christmas at the Pachecos because they have all the traditional New Mexican dishes — homemade green and red tamales, green and red chili, posole, and biscochitos (a Christmas cookie). And, of course, there was a large array of desserts, including cheesecake.

Since my grandson Austin lives in Albuquerque, I haven’t seen him often. He made one trip down that first week but only stayed for a short time. On Christmas Eve, he met us as the Pachecos and returned to Anna’s to spend the night. He returned Saturday before I left to spend the day and have dinner with me.

Like me, Christmas traditions and family are special to Anna, and she still hangs stockings for everyone on Christmas Eve. Santa fills them after he places beautifully wrapped packages under the tree.

My children have always had stockings. Stockings are the first thing we look at on Christmas morning and each always has something special — not to mention a great variety of gifts — inside it. Once everything was unwrapped, Anna cooked breakfast, and we relaxed for the rest of the day.

On Friday after Christmas, Austin and his girlfriend, Victoria, came to Santa Fe, to take Jasmine back to Albuquerque to pick out a special gift. They walked around the mall and stopped in a couple of stores before going into a skateboard shop where Jasmine said she always had wanted a skateboard. To her surprise, that was her gift. She picked out everything — the wheels, the board design, the grip tape. She was really excited to have her own skateboard.

It was also particularly fun and interesting watching Jasmine experience her first “puppy love.”

By the time this is published, I will be back home. I don’t know when I will see my New Mexico family again, but I will have special memories of my visit when I miss them most.

Reidsville native Ann Fish has lived in Eden since 1979. Contact her at annsomersfish@yahoo.com.

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