Christmas has ALWAYS been my favorite time of the year. Growing up in the north it seemed that Christmas was especially enchanting. Shopping in our downtown was wonderful. Snow lined streets, people dressed up in festive winter sweaters, Christmas lights glowing from behind mounds of snow. A large evergreen in the town square where children from various schools would carol providing that crowning touch of Christmas ambience. I can hear them laughing and singing in pages of my mind, "City side walks, busy side walks, dressed in holiday style. In the air....." you get the idea. A lifetime of special moments just like those written in story books.
I moved to Florida in March of 1985. Spring and summer passed, soon fall was upon us and Christmas decorations began to appear everywhere. However, something seemed to be awry. The chill in the air that seemed to set the stage for the entire holiday drama never arrived. Instead a sub-tropical heat wave hit, forcing me to exchange my festive sweaters for a "Santa tank top." Oh yes, there were Christmas lights... but twinkle lights on palm trees almost seemed perverse. Now those Christmas carols that once rang from the mouths of rosy cheeked children seemed awful coming from a battery powered musical sand dollar. How miserable! Each new day added to the resentment I felt toward this awful charade of Christmas. This was not Christmas as I remembered it. I finally resolved that I would not celebrate in this land. I would wait until I could return home to the land of enchantment where Christmas joys abounded.
Soon my new acquaintances in Florida began to sense my cynicism toward the holiday that I once loved most. One night I was reciting my Christmas discontent when someone offered insight that would forever change my life. They started by saying that the reason I resented these Florida holiday traditions was because they were not the traditions I remembered. They went on to say that in order for me to find any joy I would need to make new memories. Oh my, what a thought.
Unbeknownst to me or my Christmas counselor, two other aquaintances left the crowd and to plan an elfish scheme. When I got home that evening, awaiting me at my door I found a beautiful, freshly cut, three foot evergreen tree. Fixed to the top was a bright red bow and a note: “We love you and want you to share Christmas with us! – from, Your new friends in Florida.” At that moment I sat down on the porch stoop and tears that came to my eyes seem to bring a clarity that I had quietly encountered my first new Florida Christmas memory. Within moments I called the Christmas culprits and told them that since I was going to have to now decorate a tree that they would have to come and help me (make more memories.) Within a short time my small apartment was filled with people, Christmas music and the making of new memories. Now, over twenty years later, early in each December, those friends and a score of others gather with me to continue the memories begun on that hot December night.
My advice to you during this holiday season is to remember your old friends and dare to make some memories with some new ones. Don’t let this Christmas season pass without making some great memories because today counts.