To me, Christmas is cold. It is evening snowfall and visible breath in frozen air. It is hiding indoors with your family, staying warm by staying merry. To take the cold and snow away is to defy all of my memories of the holiday; a day I have always found a perfect microcosm of everything I know and love about Winter.
But here I am in Arizona, the chance of snow pretty much zero. It’s cold-ish, but hardly the frozen sub-32 that reminds me of the season. I hear the music, I see the lights, I’m with family, but without the air nipping at my ears, it’s all sort of surreal. It’s hard to think of Christmas when you see sand and cacti all around.
But I look around, and it’s not weird to anyone but me. The local residents celebrate the holiday with the same, if not more, enthusiasm. Some of the Christmas displays I’ve seen are incredible. Perhaps the warmer weather encourages more elaborate light displays, as they aren’t hurrying to finish hanging that last strand so they can escape the freezing weather as quickly as possible.
And as weird as it is to see Santa and Reindeer in the desert, it’s got all the things I love about Christmas. Tiffany’s family is incredibly warm and welcoming, sharing stories of people whose journeys are done, and showing off pictures of those whose journeys are just starting. The food is kingly and excessive; I certainly haven’t gone hungry. The spirit is alive, even if it is in an environment, that was until now, completely alien to me.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found it’s less about the day, and more about the people you spend it with. It’s less about where you are, but who is with you. I’m glad to be in the desert with these great people, snow be damned.
Hell, even the cacti look kind of good with lights on them:
So wherever you are – be it desert, tundra, jungle, or savannah – enjoy the time with the people you love. And if you’re not with the ones you love, do your best to get there, wherever “there” may be.
Happy Xmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Ramadan, or whatever you decide to celebrate this time of year.
See you all in 2012!