Check out the photo below. This is the geography of the desert. Talk about being able to see for miles and miles.
For Phoenix is a desert no matter how many high rises replace cactus or fancy hotels displace rock. Of course, Phoenix neighborhoods now have paved streets and not a stage coach or a horse in sight, though I've met a cowboy or two. Why there's even grass with flowering plants. Still, it's a desert. Central Avenue is the only street that I know of in Phoenix with a path that you can walk and admire the color and shuffle your feet in leaves for a few weeks.
The weather cools only briefly in the desert. It's a quick chill, the leaves drop on few of the trees, very few, and before you know there are green leaves. It's time to don flip flops and sleeveless shirts and plant a garden. Then summer, but I'd rather avoid such talk while reveling in the joy of Arizona.
Christmas in Phoenix is like this rare golden tree. It comes and it goes fast. For some non-holiday people, having Christmas over fast is a good thing. I understand that not everyone is thrilled with decorations and colored lights. For whatever reason, for those experiencing illness or loss, financial woes, finding the Christmas spirit is difficult or impossible.
But for myself, and for a lot of people, the holiday season feels too rushed. We find ourselves wanting to savor each moment, to slow things down, make all the festive fun last, just as I want the far and few between Phoenix trees to stay golden. It all seems to go faster and faster as the years pass. Life goes into overdrive.
My real Christmas tree is the same. I know its lifetime is brief. Knowing this makes me want to stay home just to admire its beauty. Work and stuff like walking my dog Darla keeps getting in the way of me sitting on the couch staring at the tree all day. Knowing there is a fast approaching expiration date on my Christmas tree increases my appreciation. In a few weeks it will loose its all its needles and it will end up in the recycle bin, but oh how beautiful it looks now.
Somehow impermanence, knowing that things will end soon, makes me want to pay more attention. I get lazy about things that seemingly will last forever. Of course, nothing will. As I walked down the golden path on Central Avenue today I thought about this and then I thought about my dear friend Selma. I've kept her photo. I find myself unable to let go of images of people I've loved. It's as if I'm hoping to find some forever in the photo.
She's on the left and her aunt Lejla is on the right. This was taken on Selma's last Christmas. She died of a brain tumor and never saw another Christmas tree again. I think about Selma and really try to remember how impermanent we all are and that to appreciate every minute of Christmas, no matter my troubles, real or imagined.
For this is the only one that counts. The golden now.