I went down in early December to visit my family in Arizona. I accompanied them to a midnight pageant at their church. I basked in the glow of the Nativity, sat in the warm dark enveloped by voices raised in song, endured the firm handshakes in the lobby from men in gray suits. When it was all over, we stepped out into the winter night and found that it was snowing outside. The snow drifted heavy through the brown lights of the street lamps and it was already thick across the desert floor and on the arms of a nearby cactus and across the clay roof of the old Spanish church. Everyone grinned as the snow flakes sparkled in their eyelashes, and they reached out their cupped palms to gather the flakes as they fell right into their hands.
My cousin asked me to drive his car, since he had no experience driving in the snow. We all piled in and I cranked up the heat and the defroster as the wipers brushed aside the snow that had gathered on the windshield. As the car warmed up, we sat listening to the radio and the news reporter said that it was snowing all over the state, far out into the desert, far out into the dark beyond the lights. They were calling for several inches of accumulation. By morning they were going to have to bring in plows from up north. They’d never seen anything like it.
I slowly made my way through the empty streets, the colored lights and huddled figures blurred and indistinguishable beyond the swirling shrouds of white. There was a party going when we got back to the house, the cars all parked this way and that in the driveway and out along the curb. There were shadows of people at the windows, marveling at the falling snow. Inside they greeted me warmly with pats on the back, and my aunt was telling everybody how I’d driven them all home. I got to talking to one of my uncles and he took me to a room in the back where he kept tapes of every phone call he’d ever made. He played some of the more amusing ones. I just laughed along. Everything was alright. It was a snowy night, and we were all here together.