This is our 5th year visiting Cedar Key and although it feels like home to me, that's five years I haven't spent Christmas with my immediate family. This year it caught up to me — I have nostalgia and I want "Christmas." This may be unknown to you, but it certainly isn't a secret, my husband — whom I love dearly — is a scrooge. I don't mean just a "bah humbug" kind of scrooge, but a if-I-could-I-would-CANCEL-Christmas scrooge!
No matter I am taking Christmas by the antlers! I have a full blown Christmas tree this year. The grand Subaru sleigh transported a third of my Christmas decor here, too, in spite of the professional packer's distaste. The tree was flown in special from Amazon — quite a deal I must say only because the cost of said tree had to run quickly by scrooge with its nose sooted over. That being out of the bag, I must say I was quite shocked that some trees have a price tag of nearly $300.00! (I spent a 6th of that.)
Remembering my awful allergy breakout the last time I decorated a Christmas tree, I went artificial. Being a Northern gal, green seems out of place next to Palm Trees and Cabbage Palms, not snow, so I chose an artificial white tree. That says "Florida" to me for some inexplicable reason, meaning feeling. A slight oversight, all my Christmas lights are green (to go on a green Northern tree). Next year I will perhaps invest in some lights with white cords.
It's not the same, sitting by the lit up Christmas tree in a rental with your door open because the temperatures are mild, but there is still that magic in gazing upon the tree. There's still that magic in decorating the tree of which I did alone because as aforementioned my husband is afflicted with scrooge syndrome. I did subject him to hours and hours of Christmas carol therapy and I think it might have helped just a little. As is my tradition, and I believe my grandmother the one and only Violet Fern also partook, one must decorate the tree with a bit of spiked nog. What's that you say? Vegans, or plant based weirdo diet people, do not consume dairy nor eggs — which astonishly to some are a main ingredient in egg nog, or perhaps it's the revelation that the eggs are raw that is astonishing if you were to make your own. No matter! There are now dairy-free, egg-free nogs on the market and they are just as delicious especially with my favorite spike of Kraken and a bit of sprinkled cinnamon and nutmeg. Some traditions can be carried on with slight modifications.
One of the expected joys in decorating my Christmas tree this year was unwrapping (inanimate) ornaments, each of which sparked (alive) memories of who gifted onto me or their origins. As I mentioned in a previous post, I did make some cookie dough ornaments with the fond memory of making sugar cookies decorated with colored egg washes with my mother and family. I brought some of those with me. I have missed hanging up ornaments given to me by my grandmothers and great aunt. These are little treasures to me and remind me of the 1950s era (even if I wasn't born until the next decade) and of Christmas Eves past spent in my grandmother's basement complete with pool table and bar or my other grandmother's living room. All fond memories of Christmas cheer. What's a little bit synchromatic is that the glasses here in our winter rental, as pictured in the nog shot above, also remind me of my Grandmother's basement bar and that 1950s era.
Some of my favorite ornaments given to me by my Grandmother and Great Aunt.
I love the tinsel nestled inside the pink glass tear drop shape, and the tea kettle — so delicate!
A pink Christmas ornament of either my Grandmother's or Great Aunt's that is frosted with
Merry Christmas always reminded me of Florida! I feel its at home this year.
My other Grandmother kept things simple with only an array of gold ornaments like this.
What spurred this post was actually a comment I made on another blog that encouraged its readers to share their Christmas traditions. That long winded answer/comment told me to write it out in a post of my own. And I encourage you to share your traditions or a favorite tradition here in the spirit of Christmas.
I have collected "star" ornaments for years but this star also belonged to my grandmother.
It slides apart to store.
I'll try to sum up my immediate family's traditions here — the ones I am pining for. I wish I could go to my Mom's for Christmas Eve — wish I would have planned ahead to fly up to Syracuse and pop in for a surprise Christmas! — spend the night and then go to my brother's (close by) for Christmas Day brunch. Christmas Eve is all about family — exchanging gifts from family to family including family pets. (When we were kids, Christmas Day morning gifts were from Santa.) Christmas Eve gift exchange includes gifts with an abhorrent amount of tape so that opening the gift without some sort of tool is nearly impossible. It also includes girl gifts from Mom, i.e. kitchen gadget, and boy gifts from Dad, i.e. power tool. It might also include a candy cane inside the gift box — something my Grandmother would do when she mailed gifts to us. The comment "oh, this bow is like one of Grandma's!" may be exclaimed meaning it was tied around the gift very, very tightly. I included candy canes in my gifts this year that have been mailed to my Mom's. I will also say I used almost an entire roll of packing tape on one of the boxes I mailed, mostly to hold it together, but I can't help thinking about the tape tradition. Tee hee.
This special star ornament hangs from a branch swing and was given to me by a
dear friend. I have made my wish.
This ornament was an ambitious Christmas for me in which I once again, made cutouts,
only from craft clay, and handpainted. I lived alone in an apartment at this time of my life.
I incorporated some of my button collection which came from my Mom. I made more of
these as gifts for my family that year but kept this coyote moon one for myself. The moon
is a big, white, glossy button.
In place of dinner on Christmas Eve is an excessive array of appetizers/cookies that we munch on throughout the night while drinking spiked egg nog, wine, and mixed drinks with Christmas carols playing in the background. We used to follow that up with midnight mass but that has morphed into 5 O'clock mass so we can drink responsibly. Back to that array of snacks: homemade fudge from Grandma (now made by Mom) and/or the seasons' Christmas cookies, homebaked rolls (family recipe baked by Dad) with egg, tuna and ham salad filling, and pickled herring are staples — quite a combination! Breakfast brunch at my brother's includes more homemade rolls, kuchen (coffee cake - the same dough as the rolls with a crumbled sugar topping), and "potato sausage" made by my father — recipes carried down from generations on my father's side. I have "veganized" grandmother's roll recipe as my husband, brother in law and sister now all eat plant based diets. The "potato sausage" is a little bit more difficult as its secret ingredient, aside from shredded potatoes, is leaf lard. My dad bakes all the rolls and kuchens now with the help of my nieces carrying on tradition.
My Mom gave me these slip on stars to make your Christmas lights sparkle.
I believe they were from Avon, now a collectors item?
I also have these hot chili pepper lights that seem closer to home here.
This Christmas we will once again be headed to Gulfport. Gulfport is where my husband's parents lived. It is good that we have spent the last couple of Christmases in Gulfport because both of my husband's parents have now passed on. Last year spent there because it was the first (and unbeknownst to us at the time, the last) Christmas his Mom would spend as a widow. The year before because of his Dad's health. Prior to that because we mostly spent Christmas with my folks when we stayed up North and his folks were in Florida. So that switched around finding ourselves in Florida, too. This year we are going to sort through their condo along with his sister and brother-in-law to put it up for sale. And although that may sound dire, it's a mixed bag because my husband and I now have a Florida home to furnish come the New Year. That is my secret, a home here in Cedar Key of our own! We will, be assured, still be returning North come April. Our Florida home will be rented out when we aren't here. It is simply a stepping stone to a very long range, far in the future plan of sorts. So this Christmas is the ultimate of where the ghosts of the past meet the ghosts of the future.
I am always an advocate of change. Change is good, it's evolution. Sometimes it is forced upon us but I am a firm believer that things always turn out for the best. So, though I am pining for traditions past, sometimes even to the point of tears (in paradise — do not feel the least bit sorry for me who is blessed to the nth degree), I know that Christmas will evolve for my, our, family and we will spend it together once again somehow in some way that will make more precious memories, new traditions that we will all come to love.
I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, holiday — however you celebrate, and please share — much peace and joy, and the spirit of the season.
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Author Kathy Sturr
In this blog I may write about the garden, flowers, plants, and the garden ... mostly the garden, but also new art and inspiration.