Thursday, December 29, 2011

Spending the holidays in Florida

Spending the holidays in a warmer climate still feels strange to me, having lived in Canada for most of my life. But that's exactly what I did for a few days when Rich and I went to Florida to visit his family and seeing them is always special.

My father-in-law still loves to go walking though he uses a cane, and his favorite place is Downtown Disney. There, thousands of poinsettia plants have been nestled into terra cotta urns and thrive under the 80 degree sunshine.
And while it did feel somewhat liberating to be open-toed, wearing flip-flops instead of fuzzy slippers decorating the Christmas tree after, or hanging ornaments around the porch without the threat of a nor'easter tearing them to shreds, I realized something that surprised me--I actually missed the cold.

As much as I shiver and complain about the winter chill in New England and those blustery winds--my own porch in New Hampshire is filled with buckets of greenery and artificial poinsettias weighed down by bricks--to me, the holidays mean evergreens, woolen mittens and... snow. And I suppose it's because what's underneath all that, are the memories I've gathered from Christmases bundled-up in sweaters. Of building snowforts, singing carols in front of a fireplace, making snow angels in the backyard with my sister in her fogged-up glasses, and trudging to Christmas service early, extra early, to help my father scrape the ice off the windshield.

It's almost as if the stark temperature forces me, somehow, to get down to the meaning of the holidays. There's also something about frozen-toes after an afternoon of ice skating that makes me feel part of the landscape.

In Orlando, they simulate the feel of skating with an artificial outdoor rink, and snow is sprayed nightly onto the streets of Celebration. It sounds silly, I know, but it actually feels magical because of the children. They squeal with delight upon seeing the first flakes shoot out of the snow-making machines perched high atop the street lamps, and their eyes glisten with adventure when they put on those skates.
Most of them struggle on the plastic pond, wiping out more than ever gliding over it, but they never stop smiling and love the experience no matter how many bruises they get. And Spending that night with my nieces and nephews, watching them skate was my favorite part of the trip.
In Fort Wilderness,Disney's campground, regulars enjoy their own holiday traditions.
And that means decorating their campsites with as many Disney snowglobes or wagons full of other storybook characters as they can fit into the space in front of their Rv's.
And I know they certainly wouldn't trade any of it for a chilly, New England Christmas.


  1. While our childhood memories seem to have the greatest influence on what we expect at Christmas, Christmas is Christmas wherever we are--& those memories are still inside us ready to be relived at a moment's notice. Wonderful post!

  2. Glad you enjoyed the post, Kathy. I know how much Christmas means to you and how well you express it in your writing. Happy New Year!