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Christmas Memories of Candles and Paper Bags

I recall as a kid very speacial Christmas memories of candles and paper bags. I grew up in Northern Wyoming in the sleepy town of Sheridan Wy.  My folks had purchased a very old, very large home that underwent a lot of restoration over the years we resided there.  My parents were originally from eastern New Mew Mexico and the Albuquerque area. So growing up in New Mexico they were immersed in many of the area traditions.  One of those traditions was putting out luminaires (spanish for lamps).

This was a family affair for sure,  hundreds of paper bags were purchased each year, all the paraffin wax in the little town was gathered up because we actually made our own candles as well.  Candle wick by the spool was purchased and when we ran out of that we used pipe cleaners, my Dad was a pipe smoker in those days, kinda like Santa Clause did if the older crowd recalls.

All the ingredients were now available to create the magical little lamps.  Setting them all up was a very cold endeavor in Northern Wyoming in December.  But we did it just as the photo below shows, filling each paper bag with plenty of sand to hold them down in the blustering winds and piled up snow.

Each and every night many times in sub zero temperatures those 150 + Luminaries had to be lit, we didn't have those fancy new long neck BBQ lighters, it was stick matches and lots of them.  The Luminaries had to be monitored closely because the winds would crank up pushing the bags into the flames for instant ignition and need of a replacement.  As a family we had a great time doing all of this, making more candles in the basement, and lighting them each night.  The local newspaper got wind of our Christmas tradition and sent out a photographer and reporter for the story, from release of that paper until we took them down there was always a steady stream of drive by’s.  What was so fun is watching droves of people pull up, jump out of their cars and peer into the bag only to discover yes those are real candles. 

The photo is of our home at Christmas while I was a kid.

Luminaries at The McCormack in Sheridan Wyoming

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Comment balloon 46 commentsJohn McCormack, CRS • December 12 2012 02:49PM
Christmas Memories of Candles and Paper Bags
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