It’s beginning to look a LOT like Christmas – Florida style!! I thoroughly LOVE looking outside the window where sunny skies, gorgeous blue water and palm trees await. Nothing like walking out to the back yard to pick grapefruit and oranges off the trees then squeezing a fresh quart of juice - in December!! Talk about enjoying some Christmas cheer!
Having lived half my life in upstate New York, Christmas was typically cold and snowy white – a gorgeous made-for-Hollywood scene, however most days the skies sported an almost permanent shade of grayish “blah” which in turn made me feel…well…blah!! It wasn’t until we moved to Florida I realized how much the sun actually shines on any given day!! And I love it! Seems my sunny personality bodes well soaking up the sun’s rays.
Tis the season to be jolly – and family Christmas traditions abound. Aren’t traditions what make Christmas so special? Now that the ornaments are hung on the tree, the nativity scene is in place and Christmas cookies (my grandmothers famous recipe) are made and frosted there’s time to reminisce about why the Christmas holiday is one of my favorites.
It brings a smile to my face, remembering the years when my now grown children would wake up at the crack of dawn and bound into our bedroom. There are only 2 nights a year when Austin, our youngest, goes to bed early without prompting and Christmas Eve is one of them. “Santa can’t come until I’m asleep,” he’d say proudly. My hubby and I were always grateful for Austin’s “tradition”, since Tim’s and my “tradition” was wrapping the children’s gifts as soon as they went to bed and placing them under the tree. This year with the economy the way it is, we’re wrapping each present in gold-colored gift wrap so as to treat them like the liquid gold that they are!
Our older son Bennett is much more demure on Christmas morning. Once he reached middle school he was more than happy to wait until mid-morning before waking up as early as Austin did and partaking of the family’s traditional waiting at the top of the stairs until Dad went down first and turned on the Christmas tree lights. I smile thinking of him sitting on the couch all sleepy-eyed, wrapped in a down comforter, his hands reaching out just far enough to attain the present younger brother Austin (our Santa-hat wearing official gift giver-outer who’d been up before the sun that morning) was offering.
The beauty of Christmas is not the price of the gift, it’s the thought, creativity and the love put into choosing something you hope brings a smile to the receiver’s face and lets them know, “I think you are special. Thank you for bringing joy to my life. It is a true gift knowing you.”
This year we have much to be thankful for. Our family is healthy, we have a roof over our heads, food on the table and friends to celebrate the season with. I am thankful for our men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line every day in order to secure our borders and enable us to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah with our loved ones. As we gaze upon the Christmas tree this year, may we remember the reason for the season is sharing love with each other. For every parent: may you be filled with joy overflowing knowing you are loved for who you are and that the best gift you can give your children each day of the year alongside those loving hugs and kisses is patience, kindness, encouragement and security. May each of these gifts return to you sevenfold. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and may we each enjoy a joy-filled, fabulous new year.