>Boxing Day

>Lots of traditions are associated with Boxing Day. The one I remember is that of the nobility boxing up the leftovers from the Christmas feast to give to the poor or to their servants, depending on who’s telling the story.

These aren’t exactly leftovers, but they’re fond memories of the holiday season. They’re also grist for the writer’s mill.

Earlier this month my husband and I took a quick trip to Carlsbad, New Mexico, with a couple of friends to view the Christmas on the Pecos light show. This is a one hour boat cruise along a stretch of water that’s not actually part of the Pecos River. It’s surrounded by beautiful homes, most of them with beautiful light displays.

I found out just how hard it is to take photos at night from a moving boat. The full moon floated overhead, as if to say that no matter how much effort man puts into light displays, Mother Nature can’t be beat.

Before heading home the next morning, we drove down to Carlsbad Carverns to take the Left Hand Tunnel tour. This is a guided walking tour by lantern light. On the way in, the only light we were permitted was that of the candle lanterns issued to each of us. This is the way the cave’s first explorer, Jim White, saw it, except that he was alone and instead of a candle lantern, he had a coffee pot full of oil with a rope for a wick.

Our guide, Ranger Rick (I kid you not), was terrific and reassuring from the start. Before the tour began, the lights in the cave went out a few times due to high winds up top. I was glad we were going to have our own lanterns. Glad to be in the calm, pleasantly cool cavern, too, instead of being buffeted by 60 mph winds.

The footing in the tunnel was rough and we had to help each other avoid obstacles. Ranger Rick told great stories about the filming of a bad TV movie (Gargoyles) in the tunnel in the 70s, and a hostage situation that also took place in Left Hand Tunnel that I’d never heard of.

On the way out we could take flash pictures, including these of drapery and a stalagmite. It was fun, if a little scary at times. I would do it again in a hot second.

(PS—I still have 2009 year-at-a-glance calendars. Send me your mailing address and I’ll send you one for free.)

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