Guest column: Christmas at the Canyon inspires community spirit, continuing traditions

El Tovar Hotel under a light dusting of snow.

Erin Ford/WGCN

El Tovar Hotel under a light dusting of snow.

Throughout our time living at the Grand Canyon, there has been a variety of Christmas traditions that make holidays along the rim memorable. Helping the community, celebrating at the school and spending time with friends makes this holiday season meaningful to us.

The community has a key role in all of the Christmas traditions. For example, the El Tovar Hotel has decorations that locals look forward to seeing every year and that awe the visitors. Every year, wreaths, garlands, small decorations and a large Christmas tree are put up, along with a small, beautiful tree made of poinsettia flowers. Seeing the El Tovar decorated inspires everyone to get into the Christmas spirit.

El Tovar is not the only business that celebrates Christmas. The General Store sponsors the Angel Tree and gift wrapping event. The Angel Tree provides gifts and food for those who need a little more help during the holiday season. Anyone can choose an angel from the tree and buy a present for a child under 17. Giving a present and helping wrap the gifts is fun, but also very humbling. Every year we are reminded to be thankful for our friends, family and what we have.

There are many annual traditions that our school continues. Each year, our middle and high school bands perform a winter concert. Also, our elementary school sings traditional Christmas carols rewritten with Grand Canyon themes. Both are open for the community and visitors to come and watch. The National Park Service allows our elementary school to perform in the Grand Canyon Visitors Center. Another one of the opportunities the elementary students have to celebrate Christmas is traveling to Tusayan to visit Santa. The day before winter break, the whole middle school has a gingerbread house-making contest. Instead of gingerbread, they use graham crackers, candy, frosting, cardboard and confections that help to make a creative structure. There have been mansions, concerts, villages, towers and many extraordinary houses created over the years. This exciting tradition has been going on for many years and the students always come together and enjoy themselves.

The Canyon offers unique activities that have become traditions. Whenever possible, family and friends love to use all of the Christmas activities to have fun and make memories. One of the students’ favorites is sledding with friends on snowy days. Afterward, we drink hot chocolate and watch holiday movies. When we are not spending time with friends, we are enjoying the holidays with family; whether we are taking pictures at the El Tovar or cutting down our family’s Christmas tree, holidays at the Canyon are always exciting.

Seeing all of these Christmas traditions carried out each year has made us look forward to the holiday season and appreciate all of the hard work people put into this community.

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