How I Gave My Kids a White Christmas… in Phoenix

How I Gave My Kids a White Christmas… in Phoenix

I grew up in rural Missouri, which meant I got to experience all four seasons. Even as a kid, there was something magical about the way everything changed from month to month; in the summers, we’d get to go swimming both at the local swimming pool and in Mark Twain Lake, in the winters, we’d walk to school as our boots chunked through eight inches of snow. Every month, there was something new to mark the passage of time: fall sweaters, Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving dinners.

Now I live in Phoenix with my husband and our three kids, and I quickly realized that although there are a lot of wonderful things about Phoenix, different seasons isn’t one of them. (You’ve heard the old joke about Phoenix weather, right? “Wait five minutes… the weather won’t change.”) When I was a little girl, my mom made my sister and me new velvet Christmas dresses every year, and we always got new woolen socks and warm sweaters, because it was winter and we needed new winter clothes. This year, my little girl is wearing the same dresses and shorts she ran around in all summer — after all, temperatures are still in the 80s around here.

My kids also miss out on several of the winter holiday activities that I took for granted: snowball fights, sledding, outdoor caroling in weather so cold your breath puffed out in front of you. Even the simple pleasures, like peppermint hot cocoa, are spoiled.

So my husband and I sat down one night last year and we came up with a plan. If we wanted to make the seasons special — and if we wanted to give our children a magical, white Christmas — we had to do it ourselves.

Creating seasons through storage

Pulling out the winter toys and clothes for Christmas was one of my family’s traditions. Even though my kids can wear the same clothes and play with the same toys all year round, I’ve decided to create a similar sense of magic at home. I looked up “storage units Phoenix” and found a nice unit nearby. Turns out it’s really easy to store your toys for the winter, along with anything else that doesn’t fit the season. I stashed away our summer Slip ‘n Slide, as well as the old t-shirts with summer phrases like “Hot dog!” and “Surf’s up!” Out came new clothes and toys: shirts with Santa designs, Christmas-themed Barbie dolls, and holiday-shaped cookie cutters. For the first time, my kids had something that was only available for a few months every year. They loved it.

A Clark Griswold-worthy light display

Enormous, elaborate light displays are a Phoenix tradition, and every year our family tries to out-do everyone else on the block. This is also where the storage unit comes in handy; where else are you going to put life-size reindeer with movable heads, the light-up Santa sleigh for the roof, and the scaffolding necessary to spell out “Merry Christmas” on the lawn?

These crazy, admittedly silly light displays are a far cry from the single Victorian candle my mother placed in each of our farmhouse windows, but when you live in Phoenix, it’s important to take part in local traditions. It’s also a definite marker of when the Christmas season begins and ends, even if the weather never changes.

A true white Christmas (with a little fake snow)

In Phoenix, the kids still sing “White Christmas” and “Let it Snow” in school, even though the city is as likely to get a winter snowfall as it is to get a visit by Martians. The truth is that Christmas means snow, and even kids in Arizona pick that message up.

So last Christmas, this is what we did.

First, we dug the kiddie inflatable swimming pool out of the storage unit. Then, we got ourselves a couple buckets of fake snow; this is a fun “just add water” polymer snow designed for kids, and my husband the chemistry nerd loved it. Early Christmas morning, while I distracted the kids with their Santa stockings and holiday breakfast, my husband poured ice-cold water into the fake snow powder until a thick layer of snow filled the swimming pool. Then we told our kids to go outside and see what else Santa had brought.

They were thrilled. The fake snow rolls and flakes just like the real stuff, so they were finally able to make snowmen and snow angels.

Anyway, that’s what we did last year to create a magical Christmas. This year my kids are already asking if Santa will bring snow again, or if it’s time to get the Christmas toys out of storage. Looks like you can create winter traditions even in one of the warmest states in the country.


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