'Taos is a very giving community," said Chris Holland during a recent interview at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House on Morada Lane. "Because of this generous community spirit, I also want to give back."
The former Westminister, Colorado, resident started visiting Taos at least once a month in the 1970s to spend time with her sister, the late Karen Young. In 2009, she moved to Taos permanently.
"It felt right. There are many pulls and pushes involving a major decision," said Holland. "Karen was having knee surgery, so I moved in to help her. Later, she was diagnosed with cancer, so I was able to be there, too. I wanted to be of assistance because when I was 8 years old, my mom (a nurse) was injured and hurt her back. She was in and out of the hospital, and since I was under 14 years of age, I wasn't allowed to go into her hospital room to see her. Karen, who was 8 years older than me, took care of me and helped raise me. We lived together as kids, and when I moved to Taos, we did so again. She was a wonderful sister."
Chris and Karen shared many interests, so the siblings living arrangement worked well. For example, Chris felt an affiliation with local museums through her sister Karen.
In Colorado, Chris Holland earned 20 years of experience in the banking business. Eventually, she worked on weekends in the medical records division of Holy Cross Hospital. She preferred the schedule, as the busy time kept her organized due to a lack of time to procrastinate. Holland also claimed that she appreciated the non-working hours because they were rare.
Holland's transition to New Mexico involved a similar career background as her past experience. She worked at People's Bank as a teller for new accounts, based at Albertsons, for a year and a half. In addition, Chris also worked at the Women's Health Institute for five years. However, when Karen received the cancer diagnosis, Chris left her work position to care for her sister. "I wanted to spend all the time I could with Karen. She took care of me, so it was time to care for her … and an opportunity to enjoy the time we had together," said Holland.
After Karen Young's death on Sept. 12, 2015, Chris remained in the home. She spent time with family before re-joining the world of work. Family consists of three children - two daughters and a son - and several grandchildren. Tracie Oliver, the eldest, works for Deline Box Company in Byers, Colorado. Kelly Holland is semi-retired, but expresses her love for children as a self-employed child caretaker. Justin (Tammy) Holland farms 1,300 acres of farm land along with his best friend in Strasberg, Colorado. The family spends as much time as possible with one another despite the distance between them.
After a brief quiet period, Holland received a phone call with a job offer as a part-time receptionist at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House. She promptly accepted and now considers the staff as part of her extended family. "I even come to Mabel's house when I'm not working. I see my friends and find it relaxing," Holland said.
Part-time work at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House allowed Holland to pursue one of her interests while contributing to the beauty of Mabel's house. She checks the premises such as furniture and bedding, for quality control. If an item appears worn-out, then Holland travels to Santa Fe and other locations to seek suitable period items as replacements. "It's fun to check out the stores and see what people want to get rid of," said the experienced consignment shopper.
In addition to her work at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house, Holland manages two short-term rental properties owned by out-of-state clients.
Holland likes to knit in her spare time. She joined Hearts and Hands, a local knitting group that creates knitted items for eight different hospitals, the Taos Living Center and the Birthing Center. Hearts and Hands members make hats and blankets. Holland enjoys creating sweater sets, some with patterns like cars and little chicks. She also creates prayer shawls and lap blankets to help those in need of these items. The group meets at the Farm House Café at the Overland Sheepskin Ranch on Thursdays from 2-4 p.m. and gratefully accepts donations that enable the purchase of yarn or yarn itself for more projects.
The receptionist-property manager-knitter Holland believes that everyone has something positive to offer the community. She offered ideas for special Christmas gift-giving. "It doesn't take a lot of shopping time or huge amounts of money to find and give a memorable Christmas gift. The best gifts include a visit to someone or time spent with others. I always tell people to remember one another, and daily, to tell at least one person you care about them. During hard times, one needs to think of who's worse off than one's self. After this is done, then find out the person's needs and help that person," Holland said. "Spend time with your family. That's what the holidays are all about."