Being young and alone at Christmastime in Phoenix in the 1970s
It was my choice to leave Minnesota and travel out west when I was 19. I disliked being cold, and I'd had enough of it. I often tell people that when I turned 18, I bought a car, and it took a year for me to figure out which way was west, and then I moved to Arizona.
If you grew up where it's miserable, icy, and cold in the winter I don't have to describe how it felt seeing my first Christmas in Phoenix. I'm still amazed that such a wonderful place exists. At Christmastime I just wander around, lost in amazement, even after all of these years.
But even though it's what I wanted, being alone at Christmastime is hard. People would ask me if I was going home for Christmas, and I'd say no. I had just left snow and cold, I really had no interest even visiting it. I didn't have the money for a plane ticket, anyway, and I didn't have the money for long-distance calls. So I wrote letters to my friends back home, hundreds of them.
In the last few years some of my friends have showed me the letters that they had kept for all of these years, and they're just nonsense. Wonderful nonsense. I would write about everything I could think of, draw cartoons with references to things my friends remembered from high school, and it made me feel better. I wrote to the Girl I Had Just Met, and she wrote back. Heck, I even wrote to my mom - and she mailed me "care packages", usually with my favorite brand of beans.
I did go back to Minneapolis for Christmas a couple of times, and it was miserable. And maybe it was a reminder why I left. I don't like cold, and snow! My parents flew me back after I graduated from ASU, and then I think I went one other time, I really don't recall.
Christmastime is a sentimental time, and I have fond memories of Christmas as a kid in Minneapolis. My parents were usually very frugal, but at Christmas, they were lavish with gifts. Of course I still had to walk for miles in the snow uphill, both ways, to get to school, and I don't miss that! Cars would get stuck in snowbanks and my friends and I would happily push them out. We always had a white Christmas in Minneapolis - it snows a lot there!
But Arizona is my home, and has been for a long time now, and hopefully always will be. This is where I want to be. So I say that "I'll be home for Christmas", and it will be Glendale, Arizona.
Image at the top of this post: Me at the Saguaro Apartments in 1978, 4201 N. 9th Street, Phoenix, Arizona.
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Posted by Brad Hall