Christmas is different here in Arizona.
It's different because we typically have pleasant, cool, sunny weather (today was 41 for a low and 61 for a high).
It's different because a lot of people who live here don't have families in the state.
It's different because those of us who live here have created our own traditions that are . . . un-traditional.
Something new I did this year was get up early today and go for a hike with Cindy. It wasn't a long hike (a couple of miles, I guess, but we didn't measure . . . just looked at the website, and we did the Metate Trail, which connected to the Tortuga Trail, meaning we went 2 miles). The drive up there went through gorgeous Cave Creek (drool-worthy homes and views!), and the location of the park itself was fabulous. We got there around 8:45 AM, and there were only a few cars in the parking lot. It was getting pretty full by the time we left (around 10:30 AM). Not too difficult, except for in two spots where the incline was steep and Cindy and I were trying to carry on a deep conversation about the fact that our fashion choices are one way we can take control when we feel slightly (or completely!) out of control. So the walking uphill made that conversation a little . . . sporadic . . . because. . . . breathing . . . was more . . . challenging!
My lungs always feel cleaned out after a good hike. I think the dry desert air (at least where it's clean) gets in there and scrubs things out.
Saguaro "bones". Saguaro have stiff ribs, which I believe carry water and help them stand upright.
Beautiful - it was slightly cloudy this morning, which made the mountains go from green to blue to gray as they were farther away.
Cindy loved this cactus and requested a picture of it closer up because it's wibbly. Most cacti grow with straight sides, but this one is ripply.
We are trying out a new church tonight even though our last day at our old one was yesterday. Might as well get the "first date" out of the way! After all these years of spending time with my wonderful volunteers and students on Christmas Eve, the day will just not be right without a church service. It reminds us of why we have this holiday in the first place.
This website has some great facts about Christmas and the symbolism in the colors chosen (red = blood of Jesus, green = life!), the Christmas tree (evergreen = no death), the date (we don't know when Jesus was actually born, but it was decided to celebrate His coming to rescue us at the darkest time of the year - the winter solstice has the shortest day of the year and Jesus brings light!)
HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVE!!!!!