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WISHES FOR A VERY BLESSED CHRISTMAS
FROM 
MY GARDEN 
TO YOURS


Oh, I just love Christmas time.  Ask my friends or family and they will tell you that I live for this time of year.  I start on putting up our beautiful (okay, artificial) tree as soon as the Thanksgiving dishes are washed and put away.  I love real Christmas trees and their incredible fragrance, but I don’t like how fast they dry out, so an artificial tree works out well for me.  

I have re-programmed my radio station buttons in my car so that I can listen to those radio stations that are playing Christmas music non-stop.  I am almost done shopping and wrapping gifts.  I have some knitting projects left to finish (I took a few knitting classes back in August and I totally hooked….I love knitting!).  I can’t mention what I made because some of the recipients read my blog 😉

 Christmas 2008

Soon, I will start baking.  I love to bake and made a braided loaf of bread last week.  I wanted to practice making one first before I brought one to Christmas dinner at my mom’s house.  The kids love to help me bake and each has their own apron to wear. 
I have all the ingredients ready to make pumpkin bread.  The recipe is an old one and is honestly, hands down, the best pumpkin bread I have ever had.  It is very popular with my friends and family and very easy to make – I don’t make anything that is difficult….I’m prefer things that are simple, but look like you spent a lot of time baking them.  I will post the recipe and a photo of the results once I finish baking loaves as gifts for teachers and friends.
There is one Christmas item on my to-do list that my husband is always in charge of – putting up the Christmas lights around the house.  Now if it were up to me, our house would look like this one….
This house is just down the street from Double S Farms and I look forward to their light display each year.  But since my husband does not share my extreme zeal for holiday festivities and decorations, we typically make do with your basic string of lights around the front of our house.
However, this year he has been busy working full-time AND going to school, so he has not had much time.  And so since I did not want to wait until Dec 20th to have our lights put up, I volunteered to do it for him.  Since it was only a string of lights, it was fairly easy and I was so proud of the fact that I did not fall off of the ladder…..I am a bit clumsy.
After I put up the lights, I noticed that there were some strands of mini-white lights in the box.  Well, since I was the one putting up the lights, I decided that I would go the extra mile and decorate our cactus.  Now, I don’t have much cactus in my garden at all, but I do have a Mexican Fence Post cactus that I started from a cutting 5 years ago.  It has grown beautifully and it was just perfect for wrapping some lights around.
So, I put some gloves on and got started.  It took a bit longer than I thought it would, but I soon had it entirely wrapped up.  Our neighbor came by and asked me if I had checked to make sure that the lights worked before I had put them on the cactus.  
Oops….there is reason that I do not have a photo of my cactus all lit up.
And so I learned my lesson….always check your lights before you put them up.
 I hope all of your holiday preparations are going well and that your lights are working!

Christmas in the desert is much the same as it is around the world.  Christmas lights adorn homes and trees, with a few notable exceptions.  This is the desert after all….we sometimes do things a little differently.

First of all, we have a town Christmas tree made entirely out of tumbleweed.  It is painted white and really looks quite beautiful at night when lit up.  We have a huge celebration each year when the  lights are lit for the first time.
 
See…. I told you it was made out of tumbleweed.  For those of you who do not know what tumbleweed is, it is the light brown, prickly, round shrub that you see rolling through the town when you watch old Western movies.
*Disclaimer – contrary to popular belief, it is rare to see tumbleweed rolling through the desert.
We desert dwellers also decorate our cactus whenever we get a chance.  Saguaro cactus is relatively easy to decorate.  There was a home we used to drive by that had 3 saguaro cacti and every year they would decorate them as the 3 wise men – they looked just great.

Water is a much celebrated natural resource and some landscapes have fake desert washes running through their front yard.  During Christmas, some decorate their washes with blue lights to signify water.
*Fake desert washes were extremely trendy, but are thankfully, on the decline.  I admit that I did design some for homeowners who insisted on having them, but I would use large boulders and embed them along the sides to imitate a natural creek bed.
Ocotillo make a great stand-in as a Christmas tree.  Just hang some ornaments and string the lights.  I may have to try this on my Ocotillo next year.
You know those nets of Christmas lights that you can spread over shrubs?  Look carefully, this homeowner spread his lights over his boulder.  I’m not sure where I stand on this one….
Agave americana all lit up.  I love how this looks.
Some people feel that they have to throw lights on everything in their front yard.  They just do not know when to stop.  I’m not sure the lights make this Prickly Pear cactus look any better.
The majority of homes in the desert are beautifully lit and look like many of the homes where you live.  This is one of my favorites.  The arborist in me just loves how the lights define the beautiful tree trunks of the Palo Verde and Mesquite trees.
*None of these pictures are from my home.  My husband is somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to decorating the outside of our home for Christmas…a string of lights around the house is as fancy as he gets.  But, I get to go crazy with decorations indoors.
I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of what Christmas in the desert looks like.   

What does Christmas look like where you live?