Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in Florida

I'll admit, Christmas in Florida is kind of weird if you're used to a more temperate climate.  It's not entirely bad, but there are several drawbacks to Christmas in Florida.

For one, it's difficult to get a real Christmas tree.  There are almost no cut-your-own tree farms, and if you are lucky enough to find one, they don't have the same type of trees as up north.  The tree farm nearest us, Santa's Christmas Tree Forest in Eustis, is still an hour away.  You can choose and cut sand pines, red cedars, and Arizona cypresses.  They also offer a regular tree stand with firs, spruces, etc.  Since we weren't able to get up there, I can't say how the Florida trees look compared to northern trees.  We're going to try to go this route next year.  If you can't manage getting to a cut-your-own farm or just prefer a different type of three, you're limited to one of the stands where they sell trees shipped in from out of state.  We tried several stands, and all the trees looked pretty crappy.  Most had a significant amount of brown needles, and all were shaped oddly.  We did the best we could, and gave it a fresh cut when we got home (a few inches off the bottom).  We put it directly in the tree stand with hot water, and it never drank any of it.  None!   By the time we took it down a little over two weeks later, it was extremely dry and brittle.  I'm amazed it didn't burst into flames!  The problem is that even if they cut down the trees in North Carolina, or god forbid, Michigan, and immediately put them on a truck, the winds on the highway are very drying.  They just don't have a chance.

While the lovely weather is one of our biggest reasons we moved to Florida, it doesn't really feel like Christmas when it's in the 70s and sunny.  It's really strange to go swimming on Christmas Eve, and to eat Christmas dinner out on the lanai.  Aside from the weather on the actual holiday, it's just kind of hard to get into the spirit in the weeks leading up to Christmas when it's so sunny and warm.  Yes, it feels dumb to complain about this.  But whatever.  Doug and I both found ourselves commenting that it felt strange to be singing Christmas carols while wearing shorts and t-shirts.

The other problem we experienced was not so much a function of being in Florida, as it was just being far from family.  I've never had a Christmas without seeing family.  We're not used to being able to get up and open presents when the kids are ready (normally we have to stall them until it's a decent hour, so my parents and sister are willing to get up), or eat breakfast when we feel like it, to pick our own menu without having to consider other people, to not worry about whether the house is messy after opening presents, etc, etc.  Those sound like positives, sure.. but I'd gladly trade them for some company.

Some of our problems around Christmas have more to do with our exact location in Florida.  We're quite close to Disney World, and Christmas is a crazy-busy time of year there.  Most of December was fine, but the days preceding Christmas, and the week been Christmas and New Year's meant a lot of increased traffic for Doug.  Another annoyance is that our grocery stores were jam packed with tourists.  A busy grocery store is one thing, but a grocery store full of people who have no idea where anything is (and often don't speak English, either), is a nightmare.  Even when it's not packed, it's still frustrating because the stores cater to tourists, so they don't have a big seasonal section, and while they're great at stocking fruit, they don't carry as much in the way of squash and similar veggies (presumably because they take more work to prepare).

Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad.  It was great to be able to take Niall out to ride his new bike on Christmas Day.  And filling stockings with outdoor toys is easier and cheaper.  And Christmas dinner on the lanai is actually really lovely.

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