"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." Bilbo Baggins

Christmas in Tucson; Traditions New and Old

Wow, is it Christmas already? So hard to believe how fast time flies.  This year, for us, had quite a few firsts, as well as adopting some local traditions.  Our arrival in Tucson earlier in December went about as smooth as we could hope.  We are all settled down in our spot here at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.  They have a wonderful RV park with almost 200 sites, all of which are occupied by the way.  We were lucky to get a great site with lovely views of the mountains, a quiet area of the park, and good neighbors.


To solve the two-family holiday challenge, both sons alternate years between families for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and have managed to get on the same rotation.  It is great for us, as we get to all be together on the holidays when it is our rotation.  This year was our Thanksgiving year and so they are spending Christmas with their respective sweetheart’s families.  This left us with an opportunity we haven’t had for over 27 years; what to do for Christmas when it is just the two of us?

First, an apology to all our friends living in the north for this next comment.  The weather here has been sunny, calm and in the low-70s since our arrival.   If you have never been to the Sonoran Desert, it is not exactly a “White Christmas” style celebration and for that, Jennifer is very thankful!  To keep me in the Christmas spirit, we watched a TON of Christmas movies in the evenings, listened to Christmas music every chance we got, and even set up a little Christmas tree.  We did not need to do much Christmas shopping for each other as our main gift to ourselves is, right now, under construction.


So how does a couple spend their Christmas day living in an RV in 70 degree weather?  By adopting a couple of new Christmas traditions for us, both based on old and/or local Southwest traditions.

After a morning video call with both sons and their girls, we headed out on what many Tucsonans do on a beautiful Christmas Day, we took a hike.  Since the temperature was coolish, and we are not really in hiking shape yet, we headed over to Saguaro National Park East and hiked along the mostly flat Mika View-Pink Hill trails loop.  About 5.4 miles in total.  We had a great hike and even got to stop and have a small picnic lunch in the shade.  Not much wildlife out this time of year, but we did see a lot of birds including a roadrunner.


For Christmas supper, we had Christmas Tamales.  Traditionally, tamales date back thousands of years as a portable food eaten by the Aztec and Maya.  But why at Christmas time?  Well, corn was a very important crop in Mesoamerica, with people believing that they were created from corn. Tamales, because they were wrapped in corn husks, became part of ritual offerings. People prepared tamales for special occasions including baptisms, weddings, Dia Del Los Muertos, and, of course, Christmas.  Tamales can also be seen as a symbol of the Virgin Mary, carrying in her the baby Jesus or a mother carrying a future life, especially if the tamale contains an olive, which ours did.  In our family, we have a tradition of making gingerbread cookies, it is very labor intensive and becomes a social event for the family,  The making of tamales is the same thing, often many are made at once and families and friends are invited over for a day of togetherness and tamales.  In our case, we just preordered them from our favorite restaurant.

While we always miss spending Christmas with family, all and all, it was a great way to spend Christmas here in Tucson.

Merry Christmas everyone.


2 thoughts on “Christmas in Tucson; Traditions New and Old

  • magnum108
    December 29, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Great to meet you guys as well.

  • Scott Chiglinsky
    December 28, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    Craig and Jennifer,

    Heather and I had a great time meeting and chatting with both of you on the wine trip today.

    I also thoroughly enjoyed your Christmas story on the blog and must follow your adventures now!

    Hopefully we can meet up for a happy hour before we depart next week.


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