Christmas - Florida Style

Our Christmas Snowman "Breezy"
 I had never spent Christmas outside of Massachusetts.  This year we broke with tradition and headed to Florida.  The reasons we decided to head south were both practical and personal.  We normally leave for Florida on the 26th or 27th. When I was looking for flights for the six of us, the prices were astronomical.  I realized that if we left earlier, we could go for half the price and add 4 days to our trip.

Mikias making shells into ornaments
It was not just the savings and the longer vacation that enticed me to head to the Sunshine State for Christmas. I thought that maybe it would help me to not miss my mom. Since my mother died in 2007, it has been Christmas day that I feel her loss most keenly. I miss her bursting through the door, (arriving at least an hour early) wearing a Christmas sweater, usually with a matching pin and earrings. I miss her unloading her many gifts, hugging and kissing everyone and taking over my kitchen.  Christmas has not felt quite right without her.  I decided that a change of location could make it easier.
Ready for the tree

As our trip loomed closer, I feared I might have made a mistake. Christmas in Florida wouldn't feel like Christmas in New England. At home in Massachusetts, the season was as festive as ever, Santa was visited, the house was decorated,  parties attended and given. Everything felt right, why were we leaving?

A small tree was delivered to our house in Florida. Since our ornaments were at home it looked a little lonely. A plan was made to decorate the tree "Florida Style" .  We walked the beach searching for the best shells.  We strung them on fishing line and decorated the tree with them. Better. As the kids hung their stockings on Christmas eve, that Christmas eve feeling was the same as ever. Christmas morning felt, well, like Christmas morning.  Taking pictures while stockings were unloaded, gifts oohed and ahhed over. The girls were good sports about getting up at an ungodly hour for the boys.  The boys were good about not being excessively loud while the girls went back to sleep a couple of hours later. Later in the day we built a 'snowman' at the beach.  The day was a lovely and did indeed feel like Christmas.

Christmas eve
I still missed my mom, but I do think the change of location, along with another year gone by, made the sting less. I don't think there is a holiday that brings back memories the way that Christmas does.  I'm grateful that my mom made Christmas so memorable.

In the end, we loved celebrating Christmas in Florida.  I really had nothing to fear.  Like home, Christmas is where your heart is.