Christmas in the Desert: It’s More Laid Back

Christmas in the Desert: It's More Laid Back

Growing up, I always had great Christmases. A lot of my immediate family was spread across the country, with my grandparents living in Florida and my aunt and uncle living in California, so Christmas was always the one time of year I got to see them in person.

I was also fortunate to have good food and great gifts every year. As a kid, I never gave much thought to Christmas past getting gifts and seeing family members. I participated because I was “supposed” to.

However, as an adult, I made the decision to be more conscious and intentional with my choices and actions. As I began examining how my actions did or did not reflect my values, Christmas didn’t line up. I stopped celebrating it when it started to feel like all I wanted for Christmas was for Christmas to be over. As you can imagine, that went over like a turd in a punch bowl to some people.

Christmas in the southwest USA, however, seems a bit different. Instead of expectations and people insisting on what you’re “supposed” to do and getting pissed off when you don’t do it, it’s more quirky and fun.

No one is forcing anything on anyone, and it’s easy to ignore Christmas altogether if that’s what you choose to do. It can be religious, fun, or both. There are a variety of activities to choose from and no one is telling you which ones are right or wrong.

It wasn’t until I moved across the country that I finally understood why some people might like Christmas. And Christmas 2017 was the first time in a long time I didn’t just want it all to be over.

We went to a local meat market called Dickman’s and splurged on a really nice beef brisket to smoke for Christmas eve dinner. It took 18 hours, but it was so worth it. We’ve done brisket before, but we’d always get impatient with it and it would come out dry. This time, we stuck with it and we were rewarded.

While we waited for the brisket to smoke, we walked out to the trail that runs around the RV park and watched the sunset. It’s so easy to forget what time of year it is or what day of the week it is in the middle of the desert.

It sounds disorienting, but I think it’s great because it helps you focus on the present, which is something I had trouble doing in the past.

The Christmas day forecast for Tucson was sunny and 75, so we decided to spend it doing something we both enjoy – fishing. Tucson has an urban fishing program where they stock four local lakes (yes, there’s water here!) and encourage people to buy a community fishing license and fish.

It’s $24 a year, and you can keep fish over a certain length. We throw them back because Levi is allergic to fish and we just like the fun of catching and seeing the different species.

We didn’t expect to see anyone at the parks because where we’re from, people stay home on Christmas. But the parks had lots of people in them biking, fishing, and using the playgrounds. It was great to see people out and about enjoying their holiday.

We didn’t catch anything, but it was nice to be able to be outside doing something we enjoy instead of being stuck in the house due to freezing temperatures and snow.

We’d have caught more with a camera than a fishing pole, but of course we left it at home. The amount of wildlife hanging out at the urban ponds is awesome. Quail, ground squirrels, and a number of different types of waterfowl.

When I came to Tucson last July, if you’d have told me that I not only lived here but didn’t dread Christmas for the first time since I was a kid, I’d have told you that you were crazy. And I’m glad to be wrong.


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