My previous record was 620.

This year, I folded every single bag. Except David Winks “Gris” Gray folded one bag, and Matthew Randolph “Fish” McFeeley folded two bags into paper airplanes that had to be unfolded and refolded properly. Other than that, I folded, sanded, candled, and laid out every single luminaria of a display of seven-hundred and seventy-two. My Mom was a tremendous help with lighting, and my Dad was also of assistance troubleshooting a disaster with propane canisters that were either too old or too finicky or both. In the end, after a couple hiccups, everything was lit by 6:00 or so.

And then the crowds came.

It’s hard to fully contextualize luminarias for those who have never seen them, which is almost certainly most of you. The traditional minimum is to do the sidewalks and pathways leading to one’s front door. If one has a wall, one adds that if one’s making an effort. And ringing trees is also fairly basic. But the complexity and intricacy of the yard and house that my father has rebuilt makes it particularly prone to diversification of lumis, especially with this year’s roof additions. And my tenacity and unending appetite for the little bagged candles.

This year, perhaps more than any prior, the efforts were vastly appreciated by the masses of New Mexicans and visitors who mob a few neighborhoods in Albuquerque each Christmas Eve. I watched enthralled from dark interior windows as group after group came, stopped, and stared, many if not most posing for pictures in front of the expansive display. Cars stopped dead, many parked, some even opened their doors. Flashbulbs popped throughout the night. Whenever I was out amongst the display to get some air or switch out a few prematurely burned-down candles, people called compliments and accolades, culminating in a late teen’s remark late in the night: “You guys win!”

It was unseasonably warm last night, a good fifteen to twenty degrees warmer than most Christmas Eves. Perhaps more importantly, it was windless, making it feel even warmer and failing to disturb the bags and their interior flames. More perfect weather for luminarias I’ve never felt, nor may it ever come again. For it to coincide with this amount of effort and to be met with this kind of appreciation is the only thing I could ask for on this loneliest of Christmases.

Pictures, you say? Oh, yes, there are pictures…

Nearly full view of the house from across the street.

Getting closer.

From inside the side gate.

From the left.

From the far left.

Little bit softer now.

From under the arbor, on the porch, centered on the pampas.

Many angles.

A three-layered wall.

Close up.

Far out.

The front porch and front roof.

Interior porch, including table, tree, and fountain.

Up on the roof!

Look right.

Back to center.

And down.

Zoom in on the pampas and the front tree.

Rooftop rows.

Side walk.

Pampas, one more time.

Levels galore.

Two in my room’s window.

The porch revisited.

Straight on till morning.


So many bags!

Obligatory internal shot.

It’s bad that all I can see in this one, as a perfectionist, is the one burnt-out one.

All is what it seams.

Under the eaves.

Garage-front row.


Blurry wallside.



View from the bottom.

Follow the path.

Many paths.

The curve of the earth.

Walking back in for the last time.

Facing the side gate.

The lone window bag.

Good night.

Merry Christmas to all so inclined. May these holidays give you peace, comfort, joy, and light.