When David and Zoe decided to take a family vacation on Christmas, they wanted to go someplace warm, so they chose the southern Arizona desert. Their two daughters, Rita and Anne, were disappointed because there wouldn’t be a white Christmas, but they were consoled by the promise of a winter tan to show their friends.
David wasn’t against a white Christmas, but it had a tendency to stick around until after the New Year holiday. He and Zoe had to shovel snow to go to work. The girls thought it was great being off school, but that meant a babysitter. Of course, at twelve and fourteen, they thought they were too old for that. The chances were good that they wouldn’t have a white Christmas, but they could count on the fact that it would be cold.
On Christmas Eve, they took a plane to their destination and checked into the hotel. Rita and Anne wasted no time in donning their bathing suits and heading for the pool. That gave David and Zoe some time together. They went out on the balcony and sipped cool drinks while they took in the scenery. Actually, it was desert, but it was warm.
After a while, Zoe released a contented sigh. “It has a beauty of its own, doesn’t it?”
David studied the landscape with its assorted cactus and succulents. He wouldn’t go so far as to say it was beautiful. “It’s different.” He smiled at her. “But what I like about it is the fact that we can sit out here in our shirtsleeves and be comfortable.”
She nodded, obviously deep in thought. “But it doesn’t seem like Christmas.”
She was right about that part. It was a nice vacation from the cold, but it could have been any time of the year. The Christmas tree downstairs seemed out of place – like Christmas in July.
Later, when they went downstairs, they had pretty Christmas cookies with their lunch. Even that wasn’t the same. At home, there would be a fire in the fireplace and the kitchen would smell of ginger and allspice from Zoe’s cooking.
That night, when they went to their rooms, Zoe gave him a wistful smile. “We would have visitors at home. Now we’re surrounded by strangers. What were we thinking?”
She was disappointed and so were the girls. He had been the one to convince Zoe it was a good idea. There was no we about it. If they weren’t happy, how was it possible for him to be happy?
Christmas Eve was not only lonely, but a strong thunderstorm made it a little frightening. The girls slept fitfully on a double bed beside theirs. It took him a long time to fall asleep and he was still asleep in the morning when Rita shook his arm.
“Look Dad. It’s a white Christmas after all!”
David opened one eye and looked at her. “We’re in the desert, honey. Go back to sleep.”
He closed his eye, but she shook his arm again. “I know, but it snowed on the cactus.”
David groaned and sat up, looking out the patio doors. He gasped and shook Zoe’s arm. “Look honey!”
They all gazed in awe at the beautiful snow scene in front of them. It wasn’t a deep snow, but more like what they would call a dusting at home. Still, who would expect it in the desert?
They sat crossed legged on the beds and opened their Christmas presents, laughing and enjoying the morning. He was thinking that the snow made it seem more like Christmas when Zoe looked at him.
“You know what? A warm Christmas has nothing to do with the weather. It’s being with the ones you love and knowing how fortunate you are to have that time.” She sighed. “I love you all so much, and wherever you are, as long as I’m with you, it’s warm.”