2019 Christmas in Arizona

Shower the people you love with love, Show them the way you feel,
Things are gonna work out fine, If you only will,
Do as I say.

“Shower The People,” James Taylor (#8 on my list of Perfect Songs)

Trips to Arizona are personal for me. Life in Michigan began, for me, back in July of 1993. It was such an abrupt interruption from the life I had expected (mountains, desert, aunts, uncles, cousins…Pac 10 football!) and I never suspected how that experience would be reversed as the years went by and Michigan became “home.”

Packed and ready to go!
After 4 hours in a plane, we are ready to relax!

What has really surprised me over the years was the desire of the wonderful people around me to continue the trips to Arizona.  Phil and Sam asked me at the beginning of 2019 if we were going to Arizona for Christmas!  As I got around to asking the others, each and every one of the others never hesitated…”Yes, of course we want to go to Arizona!” What a wonderful bunch of people.

Plane tickets were bought. A large SUV was rented. A camera and a lens worthy of this awesome vacation was rented. As we got closer to December 22, I felt myself wondering how this vacation would be. I should know better by now. Being with family is wonderful and crazy and frustrating…and it’s the best thing there is.

We landed on Sunday, December 22, 2019. It was an uneventful flight (according to my standards) but I’ve done a lot more travel than the rest of the team. Thankfully, I was able to supply them with food and drinks while we were up in the air.

Terminal 3 at Sky Harbor used to be a bit…outdated?  My parents had flown out to Michigan in October and they had told us that the updated terminal was new and “really nice.”  The second we walked up from the plane, we were greeted with nice wide hallways and restaurants of all sorts. Although we were focused on getting our bags, getting our car, and getting the heck away from any airplanes for a while, we enjoyed the welcoming open environment with great big windows that looked out on a beautiful sunny day. Plane rides help you to appreciate the simple freedom of walking wherever you want!  Planes are great for getting somewhere quickly but cramped little seats and no leg room get old quickly.

Not the one we had but this was “our” car. A Chevy Suburban will fit 7 adults AND their luggage quite comfortably. Thank you, GM!

Sometime before the actual trip, I was making decisions about where we were going to stay. I believe that everyone should get a bed of their own. We’re on vacation, after all. I also believe that our group should see the unique sites of Arizona as well as the places they’re used to from previous visits.  Our hotel in Sierra Vista is always the same.  We had decided to revisit a nice hotel in Old Town Scottsdale where we would finish our visit in Arizona.  All that was left was to arrange for that first night.

The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch sure sounds nice, right?  Well, it is…mostly.  It’s also a little creepy. The rooms were nice and mostly clean but our “Executive Suite” was big and weird.  Here’s proof:

This weird (but comfortable) room was offset (a bit) by our old familiar stop at Picacho Peak on the way to SV.


Along the way to Tucson, as I got closer to my childhood home, the tension (that I don’t even realize I have) started to drain away.  It’s more than the absence of that feeling, it’s the gradual re-appearance of a soul-deep recognition that this is Home…the “only in this place” memories of a young man who grew up here with absolutely no idea of where Life would take him. Imagine finding the most comfortable clothes you’ve ever owned (and they still fit!) and putting them on again.

What’s it like walking in to your boyhood home with your wife and children with you?  It’s awesome. I highly recommend it.

Here’s the “official” page for washers.org. “Cupper” is an interesting term that I’ve never heard. The proper method for throwing washers is spot-on though.


Bisbee is about 10 miles north of the Mexican border. It’s an interesting town with lots of history and lots of hipsters. We went there two years ago. After Christmas (which included a lot of amazing food), we went there again.

On our way back from Bisbee, we were reminded that there was snow coming. It was humorous to think that snow would follow us all the way from Michigan. And yet, here it was.

1 minute 40 seconds of snow… feel free to not watch it all. 🙂

Our time in SV (on this vacation) came to an end. Phil left a reminder of us on the front lawn.

I can’t go anywhere near Tempe without visiting my alma mater.

Every other Christmas, we go home to Arizona. Home is where the heart is. My heart is with my family. I am blessed to have many people that are family. Some are relatives. Some are just people that I would do anything for and who would do anything for me.

Saturday, December 28, we were invited to two parties. One was a larger event at my aunt Scarlett’s and uncle Ramon’s house. The smaller party was Melissa’s sister Ann’s house. They were very different gatherings with similar intent. “We’re family. We belong together.”

It’s more than a vacation. It’s a renewal. A reminder of why we are who we are…and how important it is to have people who don’t care if you’re perfect… they just love you.

One thought on “2019 Christmas in Arizona

  1. I have to confess, I don’t check my e mail very often. I just saw this tonight. (6/1/20) What a great way to share your vacation with us. You say it’s an amazing feeling to come to your boyhood home with your family. As your parents, our holiday starts when you let us know you are coming for sure. I start thinking of what I am going to cook! I love cooking for you all esp. when I hear “Mom, this good green chile.” Our meals together are very special and fun, not to mention our Chicken Foot games! Your Dad really enjoys the “competitive” washer games! As your parents, we thank you and your family for coming to see us. You have passed on your love of family to your own family. They love and respect us. They are easy to love. We love you very much. God blessed us when he sent us you. I am feeling sappy, that’s ok. We look forward to your next visit!


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