Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas Vacation

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! I made the annual trip to Venice, Florida, where my grandparents live.  This was my 20th Christmas in Florida and I have grown accustomed to spending the last days of December by the pool rather than by the fire.  I always enjoy escaping the cold weather and spending a few days in flip-flops and beach cover-ups. Not your typical white Christmas, but it's Christmas to me. 

View from the front porch
On Saturday, Mom thought it would be nice to go on a "little bike ride" to the beach. Thinking it would be a short trip, I hopped on a bike in jeans, a cashmere cardingan and leather boots.  Thirty minutes later, George and Mom arrived at the beach.  Forty minutes later, I arrived, out of breath and covered in sweat.  It was then Mom informed me that the  "little bike ride" was code for a 13 mile trek upwind. Needless to say, I insisted we take the less scenic route back which took us half the time. Saturday night, we opened presents and then my grandmother made Christmas dinner for the entire family.

Grammie and the pup.

Christmas Morning
Mom's Gift
George is quite the gift wrapper.
My gift to Lady, doesn't she look thrilled?!
Every family has a holiday tradition.  On Thanksgiving, we have a talent show where everyone displays his or her most unique "talent".  On Christmas Eve, my grandparents hide a tiny pickle in one of the five Christmas trees around their house and the grandchildren race to see who has the sharpest eyes.  Legend has it, the one who finds the pickle will have good luck the following year (and as an added perk, Grammie and Pop-Pop give the winner a $50 prize).

Can you find the pickle?
On Sunday, my travel plans were once again diverted by Mother Nature.  Due to the Christmas 2K10 Snowstorm, all flights to Raleigh were cancelled so I was graced with one more day in Florida.  That night, the entire family went to dinner at our favorite local pizzeria, Luna's. 

Notice anything weird on the menu?
The family at Luna's
Of course, Christmas was not the same this year without Dad.  In a beautiful tribute to my father, Grammie designed a wreath that will hang in the living room every Christmas as a reminder that Dad is still with us in spirit.  The wreath is adorned with mini guitars, Dad's favorite, and is strung with purple lights in recognition of pancreatic cancer awareness.  My family and I were so moved by Grammie's sincere and thoughtful homage to Dad.

Dad's wreath.
Before Christmas dinner, my Pop-Pop said the blessing, something my father would do most Christmases.  Pop-Pop reminded us that although we lose loved ones, it is important to be thankfully for the time we had while they were still with us.  I will end this post with a poem my cousin Joe read to the family following the blessing.  The message is powerful and uplifting.  Although he was not at our table this Christmas, it's nice to know he spent the holidays with angels.

I see the countless Christmas trees,
Around the world below,
With the tiny lights, like Heaven’s stars,
Reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away that tear.
For I am spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs,
The people hold so dear.
But the sounds of music can’t compare
with the Christmas choir up here.

For I have no words to tell you,
The joy their voices bring.
For it is beyond description
To hear an angel sing.

I can’t tell you of the splendor,
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you imagine Christmas
With our Savior, face to face?

I’ll ask Him to light your spirit,
As I tell Him of your love,
So then pray for one another
as you lift your eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful,
And let your spirit sing.
For I am spending Christmas in Heaven,
And I’m walking with the King!

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