Photo: joanna.est1984

7 Signs You Grew Up Celebrating the Holidays in Arizona

by Michelle Tanaka Dec 5, 2015

1. Driving your beater car finally becomes bearable.

Your high school ride, an ’89 Jeep Cherokee, was not equipped with that most basic and necessary commodity: air conditioning. December meant you didn’t have to sustain third-degree burns putting your seat belt on or asphyxiate in roiling heatwaves every time you had to go somewhere. It’s the only time of year you could actually go joy riding — your personal answer to a one-horse open sleigh.

2. You make luminaria every December.

The day after Thanksgiving, you regularly bust out your strings of chili pepper lights to drape around the cacti in the front yard, while the neighbors put Santa hats on theirs. As Christmas draws closer, you fill paper lunch sacks with sand and tea candles to line the walkways in front of the house. The smell of pine in the house comes from a giant, ancient Yankee candle your mom bought at Bed Bath and Beyond, since the tree itself is artificial (there was that one time you had a real one, sparse and browning on account of it undergoing a massive journey from a farm with climes suitable for evergreens — that is to say, far, far away). Your crowning decorating achievement was when you managed to wrap a saguaro, arms and all, with lights and garland without sustaining any major injuries.

3. On Christmas Eve, your family downs at least a gallon of chile rojo.

Tamales are not a novelty item at some shitty Mexican restaurant, they’re the main culinary event come Christmas Eve. The week leading up to December 24 becomes a warzone in the grocery store as you battle for the last remaining bags of masa and corn husks. You’re scarred for life after encountering your eighth grade history teacher cussing out some soccer mom for snatching up all the chile pods on sale in aisle 7.

4. You’ve never had a White Christmas at home.

The irony of singing “Let It Snow” in an air-conditioned vehicle never occurs to you; the only snow you encounter during the season is spray-painted on the windows of the local Ace Hardware. There was that one year the family packed everyone up and visited relatives in Colorado. While the scenery was great, snow was cold and you couldn’t help thinking you were all going to asphyxiate in your sleep from the sinister sputtering of the radiator. You’ll keep your cacti and sunshine, thanks.

5. You dress for the arctic the instant the mercury hits 65.

You think it’s chilly when it’s 70 out; 50s and below is veritably unbearable. You’ve never owned long underwear, earmuffs, or mittens (or a raincoat, for that matter). Winter attire means no more than a hooded sweatshirt; when you’re feeling really fancy, you throw on a scarf (only to remove it shortly after putting it on due to copious amounts of neck sweat). The whole Uggs craze was a farce: you’ve worn yours exactly twice, feet veritably boiling for the duration, and now they live in the back of your closet collecting dust and cat hair.

6. You despise snowbirds.

They clog your streets with their slow, shitty driving, turning every hour into rush hour. They clog the stores with their slow shopping, and generally piss everyone in every hospitality industry off with their picky habits and loud complaining (your high school job as a busser was hell when the snowbirds rolled in). They congest your hometown at its nicest time of year, sullying what could potentially be a paradise if not for their presence. (And they’re buying up all the damn canned pumpkin!)

7. You find nothing at all strange about ordering your Peppermint Hot Chocolate… iced.

You tried ordering it hot, once, even though it was 75 degrees out. Just to see what all the fuss was about. You took two sips of it, then left it sitting in the cupholder for the next two days.

8. You’re the asshole posting those obnoxious weather memes.

You know, the ones that say “December? LOL” with a photo of a barbecue. When the rest of the nation reaches freezing temperatures, you make sure to brag with a map infographic showing off your toasty corner. You get a sick satisfaction watching everybody on the East Coast comment bitterly on each and every one, then use the salt from their tears to season your tamales.

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