Today has been the most perfect Christmas Eve. My mother has been here since Friday evening. Peegie's mother (Mom LeB) arrived today. We are drinking mimosas, making pumpkin pies (mama) and gumdrop cookies (Mom LeB), sharing stories and enjoying the fact we are all together. The shopping is done, the gifts are wrapped, and the day is perfect. It's almost as if Santa arrived early.
Today is Friday. Exactly 10 days before Christmas. I have much to be thankful for (oh, wait, that's a totally different holiday...) Getting back to the point, it's 10 days before Christmas and, in keeping with (my) custom, I've not done anything about shopping. I'm a Virgo by birth but Christmas creeps up on me every year.
Don't get me wrong. My procrastination is not a passive aggressive protest against the commercialization of this wonderful holiday. I love Christmas. I love everything about it. But, I'm not convinced "Christmas" is the bill of goods American retailers try to sell us every year. (I am particularly offended by the advertisements that suggest we should purchase an earth-damaging, oversized, gas-guzzling, non-functional "SUV" for the "person who has everything." Really? Have we really set the bar at giving a luxury car for Christmas?)
And I'm not against gifts. It's just that I find so much enjoyment in the other stuff about Christmas: the fragrance of freshly cut fir trees under Uncle Al's tent; the memories attached to each and every ornament in my collection; twinkly white lights; eggnog milkshakes from Steak n' Shake; the Christmas music of Harry Connick Jr. and Jimmy Buffett; my mama's coconut pecan fingers and "junebug" cookies; remembering how my daddy would work a full day on Christmas Eve so his assistants could take the day off; the 24 hours of A Christmas Story on TNT; the lilt of Bing Crosby's vocal stylings in "White Christmas"; enjoying a delicious meal with family; ALWAYS thinking of my mama when I hear Brenda Lee sing "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"; and the joy of seeing my family and friends light up when they unwrap that "perfect" gift so thoughtfully and lovingly selected for them. Now THAT is a December to Remember.*
* Lexus, you are really, really getting on my nerves. Grrrrrr!
So proclaimed my love this afternoon while standing at our kitchen counter, eating a turkey sub from Firehouse Subs.
The impetus for his proclamation? A stunningly beautiful day. The sky is so blue it looks like a painting. The sun is high and bright, and there is a lovely (albeit a bit robust...) breeze bathing our house in fresh, clean, crisp air. It's still chilly, mind you, but I'm back in my flip-flops.
When I lived in the ATL, my acclimation to the cold(er) weather was quick and complete. I lived there for three years and each year it snowed. I would visit my family for Christmas and return to a snow-covered Atlanta...WITH A SUNTAN. Still, that didn't stop me from snickering when either my mama or my sister would shiver in 60-degree weather. Somehow, in a way I really can't explain, I just became accustomed to the sustained cold weather that pretty much began right after my birthday and didn't stop until the annual Dogwood Festival.
Now that I live in Fort Myers, my re-acclimation to the hot weather has been less than quick and complete. But, I am a total sissy when I comes to cooler weather. I guess I'm like Goldilocks, I like my weather "just right."
For the last six weeks, the weather has been "just right" - GORGEOUS, in fact. Clear, warm and sunny days have given way to clear, cool, starry-skied nights. We've been able to keep our windows and sliders open day and night, and during our nightly dips into the jacuzzi, both Phil and I have caught ourselves humming Jimmy Buffett "I am umbilically connected to the temperate zone..." while staring at Orion in the southern sky.
Perhaps it is karma. Perhaps Old Man Winter is enjoying a touch of Schadenfreude. Or, perhaps it's just that time of year. But, last night when I went to bed (at 11:00pm) the weather was the typically beautiful Florida fall evening: 60-ish, clear, starry sky, lightly breezy and not humid. This morning I woke up in an igloo.
Thankfully, I sleep with my own personal radiator (read: Phil).
Seriously, though, the "wake-up" temperature this morning was 44 degrees - not to mention the 15-20mph wind conditions. Oy! Pretty rough stuff for someone who has lost all acclimation to sustained cold weather. Not to mention mostly all-cotton clothing and open-toed shoes.
Tonight, we're supposed to see 40-degree overnight lows - in FORT MYERS, people!!!...that is WAY far south on the Gulf Coast of Florida! Still, I have my personal radiator (aka the love of my life), my Ugg slippers, the jacuzzi, and that beautiful starry-skied night. Sweet dreams!
One of the more kickass perks to living in Southwest Florida is Spring Training. Now that Phil and I are living together in Fort Myers, I am looking forward to those six glorious weeks in February and March when the weather is bee-YOO-tee-ful, the baseball is less expensive and we mortals have a better than decent chance of seeing our favorite baseball players upcloseandpersonal at Cru.
Sure, February and March are still a long way off; but Spring Training tickets went on sale this week.
In Fort Myers, much like my hometown of Clearwater, we have a choice of teams. You can tell from the photo which team we choose. The photo was taken - by the hat vendor - at Fenway Park last April. It was my first trip to Fenway. I was a tad excited. So excited, in fact, that I hugged our ticket collector on my way through the turnstile. Phil, ever Johnny-on-the-Spot with a digital camera, snapped a photo. I'm all teeth. The poor ticket collector bears a look of sheer terror. The hat vendor was a bit more, um, "understanding." After selling us two of the "original, authentic, traditional" Sox hats, he happily snapped the photo you see in this post. We titled the picture "Geeks in the Hats." Whatever. We're from where the Sox train!
Today marks nine years since my father died. The significance of the date landed on me with a thud. In the last nine years, not a single day has passed without me missing him or repeating my silent prayer that he stay close to me. Still, in the busy goings-on of daily life, it took a teaser story about Pearl Harbor to remind me that today is December 7th. Life proceeding normally and then, Thud.
Normalcy is bittersweet. Losing my father is the single-worst thing I've had to endure as a human, so, on December 7, 1997, the "normalcy" of the surrounding world really ticked me off. How could the universe not skip a beat? How could life possibly be normal again? But, happily, it is. Somehow the universe always seems to take care of us, even when we don't know it.
This is a test. Not the (recently ubiquitous, it seems...) "test of the emergency broadcast system," but a test of my skill in navigating the world of blogging. Yes, yes, I KNOW there are MILLIONS of you waiting to welcome me into the last century of technology; but, as this is my very first post to my very first blog, I beg for mercy. I've always been a late bloomer. More about that later. Maybe. So, here goes...