As someone who grew up in the snow and cold of Minneapolis, I am soooooo happy to be in Phoenix at Christmastime. With all due respect to that beautiful city, and the wonderful outdoor winter sports there, I just couldn't wait to leave Minneapolis. I bought a car when I was eighteen, learned to read a map not long after that, and soon figured out which way was west, and I went to Phoenix.
Many people have marveled at that, as if it were some big achievement. But really, you hold onto the steering wheel, put gas in the car a few times along the way, and you're there. I'm not saying I arrived in style, or even smelling good, but all that matters is that I had left the snow and cold for the glory of the warmth of Phoenix, Arizona. Yes, I lived where the "po' folk" lived, learned to feed myself by stretching a dollar until it screamed, and all the usual things that old-timers say that the young people don't have the discipline to do anymore. But I know that there are young people out there right now who are doing what they can, and there will always be. And I'm proud of those people, the way I can look back and say I'm proud of myself. I glad I did what I did. Most of the time it was just uncomfortable, but there was one time of the year when it hurt like crazy - Christmastime.
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Now waitaminute, I'm not saying that I had any regrets finding myself alone in Phoenix at Christmastime, but that didn't make it hurt any less. Being alone stinks, and being alone at Christmastime is just about the hardest thing that anyone with a heart can bear.
In a long life, I've come to realize that I'm not the only one who has ever been alone at Christmas, and hurting. It's so common that I'm sure it's part of the reason of the spike in liquor sales at that time of the year. I did fly back to Minneapolis once after I graduated from ASU, to experience the blizzard of the century, and that made it easier for me to not feel so sad back home in Phoenix, and later in Los Angeles.
Coming to Phoenix alone was an important decision in my life, and one that I'm glad I made. If you grew up in Phoenix, it's impossible for me to describe just how good it feels to go for a walk in December, in a tee shirt. So I won't try to describe it, you'll just see me with such a grin on my face you'd think everything is perfect. And it really is.
I wish people a merry little Christmas. If you've never heard the original lyrics to the song, it may surprise you. The version that plays on the radio isn't the same sad and lonely one that was originally written. When I was alone at Christmastime in Phoenix, I would listen for it on the radio, sung by Judy Garland. It still hurts a little.
Some day soon,
We all will be together,
If the fates allow.
Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow.
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.