First Avenue looking north from Washington (1941)

Donna Reiner, a local historian and a good friend of Get Your PHX, has written many articles over the years for the Arizona Republic and others about what came before us. We use her services when we list properties of historic significance to help us tell the stories behind the homes.

We are happy that Donna is allowing us to re-publish some of her articles on a monthly basis. If you or your business ever needs a historian, let Donna know at


By the time December rolls around, it has generally turned “cold” in Phoenix. And that cold seems to foretell the coming of WINTER and the various holidays so many of us enjoy.

As a child, my family looked forward to a trip to San Francisco and seeing the decorated tree looming up inside the center of the City of Paris Department Store and all the other store decorations.

As a confirmed resident of Arizona, and Phoenix in particular, I look forward to how our array of cultures have chosen to celebrate their special winter holidays.

First there is all the baking which fills homes with tantalizing aromas. Stollen, gingerbread houses, potato latkes, fruitcakes, plum puddings, sugared nuts, fudge, and other assorted candies. And then the cookies. Dozens and dozens of Hanukkah cookies, decorated gingerbread people, and holiday specific shaped cookies.


Bill Sims Studebaker Window Display (1940)

My daughter learned from her German host family that it was not Christmas unless you made at least SEVEN different varieties of cookies. But we must not forget the various main courses of brisket, ham, turkey, goose, lamb, pheasant, or perhaps fish. Whatever your preference, someone is cooking it on that special day.

Yet, what would a holiday be without the decorations? Dreidels, menorahs, big and little, fancy and basic wreaths, trees, garlands, lights, luminaria, and oodles of scented candles. What one might decorate may depend on the holiday being celebrated or the available bush or cacti in one’s yard. The Phoenix Zoo has its annual Zoolights. Tempe, Phoenix, Glendale, other communities across the valley have their own special evening of light displays. Your neighbors may go simple or all out on their homes.

Of course there is music in Latin, Spanish, English, German, Russian, and dozens of other languages. Many get into the spirit by seeing “The Nutcracker,” attending a “Messiah” sing-a-long or watching old movies.


Cacti lit in front of the Arizona Packing Company (1952)

To add a bit of warmth, December is the time to start the fire indoors and out.  Of course, those Maricopa County no burn days often place a damper on the fun of many “pyromaniacs.”

Yes, December is a time to gather with friends and family. To share the highs and lows of the year. To remember those who have passed in the preceding months. But most of all, December is the final month of the year where we can celebrate the joy of all the holidays with others.

Donna Reiner is the co-author of three books on Phoenix history.




The Rialto Theatre (1943)

Written by phxAdmin