Christmas in the canyon

I love a white Christmas and all the wonderful traditions that go with it. Although ''Over the river and through the woods'' has given way to airplane rides, train trips and long car rides, the anticipation of going home for Christmas still frames the beauty of the holiday celebrated with beloved family and friends.

Traditions are wonderful, but when our perception of things doesn't match some magical picture we have created the outcome can be one of self-induced frustration and sadness. If this is the case for you this year, as it is with so many Americans, maybe it's time to break with tradition.

This year I spent my Christmas at the Grandest of all canyons, the Grand Canyon, in early November with my daughter and her new husband. On our two-hour train ride from Flagstaff we were greeted by caroler's -- western style, a herd of wild mustangs running free on the high plains. The winged creatures we held in awe didn't belong to etherial beings but to a pair of California Condors still in the park. They soared the thermals on their nine-foot wing span just 15 feet from the canyon's rim!

Santa's deer grazed on the lawn outside the lodge window as we ate our Christmas supper. We saw elk, mountain goats, big horn sheep, wolves and coyotes all roaming freely, healthy and safe. I want Christmas to be like that, every year. Surrounded by the beauty of the canyon with Gods creatures all around. I felt so blessed!

On the other side of the country looms a very different kind of canyon. One of mans' making that leaves a hole in our hearts where the wind blows through. Many an empty chair round the Christmas table this year; the family photo with strained smiles sometimes through tears.

My heartfelt sympathy to every family who has lost so much from this terrible tragedy. And to every family and serviceperson that is separated this season, may your spirits remain high with hopes of Christmas future in peace. May you find peace in the new traditions you will make.

Is it time to break with old traditions or maybe make some new ones? Only you can answer that. I'm not with my family this Christmas but my spirits aren't dampened. My wonderful Christmas dream sleeps safely at the Canyon's rim with the Condors, the deer and the coyotes. Thank you God for sharing the beauty of your canyon, your creatures and making my Christmas so very special!

Happy Holidays, Rebecca

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online December 18, 2001

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