When I was a kid, Grandpa and Grandma City would come up to our home Christmas morning to watch us open Christmas presents and have a small breakfast with the family. I always like those moments on Christmas morning; it felt like they were making a long journey to be with us and I was appreciative of it. After Grandpa City passed on in 1980 the tradition changed, and we generally spent Christmas Eve night in the city with that side of the family.

Since we lived next door or across the street (depending on the year) from Grandpa and Grandma Country, we would spent Christmas afternoon and evening at their house with a good chunk of my cousins and aunts and uncles on that side of the family. We’d always pick a favorite toy or present to show off and share with the cousins. I remember the year my cousin Nathan got a truck with a numeric keypad built in, he could program the direction and length of travel. We tried it out on the floor in the hallway that led to the bedrooms of the mid-century modern home. It was great fun. After dark the cousins would rush out to the barns with my dad and me to see us do the chores, feeding the cattle, and in the early years, the horses Shinto and Sue. Doing the chores was something we did everyday, living across the street or next door, but my cousins didn’t get to partake in the merriment very often and they’d be excited to pet the cows and bulls. Little did they know they’d probably be having them for dinner at a future date. Don’t name the cows and bulls.

These Christmas celebrations revive very fond memories of my childhood and at age 53 I realize how blessed I am to have been such a happy child. As I’ve been known to say, John and Sandi did a really good job raising my sister and me. We were lucky to have close relations with both sides of the family; too many people I’ve known in my adulthood didn’t experience the same type of joy that I’ve described all these years.

Our first Christmas in the desert is different than anything I’ve ever known. It’s not cold, there’s no snow, and the scent of creosote permeates the air after today’s rain. I see icicle lights hanging from the eves of the house across the dry wash that separates our land and I wonder if they’ve ever had real icicles in the place of these lights.

I count my blessings daily. I have a wonderful husband of nearly a quarter of a century and three other men that I call family and love very much. Our home is unconventional and there’s no cattle to feed after sunset, but new memories are being formed every day and they make me smile as much as Grandpa and Grandma City’s visit when I was a child.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.