Fall doesn’t arrive in the sunshine state until after the Halloween pumpkins have been retired and the traditional stuffed turkey sits atop our dining room table. (Not a real bird filled with cornbread stuffing, but this guy. He’s the only Precious Moment creation I own, I swear.)
There are no trees covered with leaves of varying shades of scarlet and gold, no early season snow falls. Instead we thrill when the temperatures dip to the 60’s and we light the pumpkin spice candles to fill the cool air with the scent of fall.. Then we have full permission to break out the jeans, sweaters, and flannel p.j.s, and to unpack the down comforter to create a nest of warmth and softness.
I do my best to make the holidays a time of peace and comfort instead of stress and drama — well, at least as much as within my power. Thanksgiving is always held at another family member’s home — as long as everyone vows to get along and there is enough wine it’s a lovely day. I MUST watch the Macy’s Parade every year. Not until Santa rides by on his elaborate float is the Christmas season is officially allowed to begin.
If I am lucky, I have most of my shopping done by then. Not fighting the cranky crowds relieves some of the pressure and gives me time to enjoy decorating the house and filling the air with the aroma of bayberry and cookies and memories of holidays past.
Around the 1st of December I put up our tree, carefully placing each ornament while White Christmas (or more recently Mama Mia) plays on the TV. My mom bought one special ornament for me each year as I was growing up, a keepsake documenting a stage in my life. The year I bought my first scraggly Christmas tree for my own apartment she passed the box along to me and those ornaments are some of my most cherished possessions. She continues the tradition still, only now she buys one for Kiddo as well. Someday, he’ll have his own tree too…
I break out our stash of holiday books — an eclectic mix of my childhood classics and modern tales — to read while snuggled up together in Kiddo’s bed. This year he will be reading many to us. Christmas Eve we must read Twas the Night Before Christmas, the pages lovingly worn from over thirty years of tradition.
I host the Christmas festivities each year. Kiddo is the only child in our tiny immediate family and I insist that he not be ripped away from all his new toys right after he opens them. Instead we spend the day together, in our home full of family, friends, and food. I always make my heavenly brandied apple pie (if you are exceptionally lucky I might share the recipe soon). Everyone usually leaves happy, stuffed, and perhaps a tiny bit tipsy — signs it’s been an awesome holiday, filled with peace, love, comfort, and joy.
Time to start planning, kids…