We love the hustle and bustle of Christmas, even in sunny South Florida where it still feels like summer. The calendar is filled with house parties, luncheons, dinners, charity events and lots of catching up with friends and family who we don’t see often enough. The extra busyness of decorating the house, shopping for gifts, sending Christmas cards, baking cookies and planning festive meals are activities that we welcome in December. Of course it was not always that way. Retirement has added a stress-free dimension to Christmas that allows us to truly celebrate the season, not just the day.
Decorating for Christmas begins almost as soon as the Thanksgiving table has been cleared and it will stay this way until the first week of January. Since both of us are allergic to pine we use artificial trees in our home, which allows for us to get an early start. We usually decorate from two to four trees, depending on our mood and energy level. This year we have already decorated two trees and will add a third the week before Christmas.
The dinning table is set and will likely be used before our family Christmas dinner, but it might just sit there looking pretty. Again, if the mood strikes…
Our family Christmas dinner will be pretty much the same as always, with possibly a tweak or two. Typically the menu includes a soup, roasted pear salad, a goat cheese souffle, and a main plate of beef wellington, green beans and roasted potatoes. The meal is very much a family affair, with all five of us participating in the kitchen. There will be chocolate, of course, and perhaps a coconut cake for dessert then everyone will waddle their way to the living room for a last glass of wine, or an after dinner drink by the light of the Christmas tree.
The breakfast table is set and will be used time and again as we entertain friends two by two throughout December. We used to host a large party and acknowledge all our friends at once, but as we get older we find that a casual supper with a few close friends is far more gratifying than entertaining en masse. Of course, I will “edit” a few decorative items from the table to make it more practical for serving Malcolm’s awesome meatballs, beef stew or a crock of mac-n-cheese with cornbread.
We will serve some Christmas cookies for dessert and box up a few to send home with our guests. Our favorite cookies to bake this time of year are thumbprint cookies, snicker doodles and cranberry biscotti. You can find all of these recipes and more on Malcolm’s Pinterest board labeled cookies.
Staying in Touch
We send fewer and fewer Christmas cards each year, but we try to make them special by including a few photos, a brief summary of our year and a wish for health and happiness to all. We also take time to include a personal note to each recipient of our card. It takes a little time, but it just feels right to acknowledge a few special people who do not live near us in this small way.
Supporting our Community
Florida might be short on snow, but it is big on spirit when it comes to celebrating the season. There are incredible light displays, Nutcracker performances, singing Christmas trees, live nativity scenes and awesome tree lighting ceremonies throughout our small town during the month of December. Just last night we visited “Lights on the Lagoon,” hosted by the Florida Oceanographic Society located on Hutchinson Island. In its second year, it is headed toward “spectacular” and provides a wonderful opportunity to support this worthwhile organization. Their work is invaluable to the preservation of our waterways and wildlife.
This year the light display boasts over twenty decorated Christmas trees, lighted walking trails and a magical butterfly garden. Live entertainment from Thursday through Sunday, along with food and bar service made this event a priority stop for us this year.
A community event supporting The White Doves Project happens this week, so Malcolm and I will “don our gay apparel” and “rock the night away” in support of a good cause. I especially look forward to this event each year because it is sponsored by our neighborhood Women’s Club of which I am a founding member. The Club’s annual support of the charity has not wavered since its inception fourteen years ago. The toys and monetary contributions collected on this night will go directly to families in need who live in our county.
Martin County Volunteers White Doves Project is responsible for receiving, sorting and inviting families to “shop” for Christmas. Many, many volunteers work at the distribution center and behind the scenes each year to ensure that children in our community have Christmas toys and food for the holidays.
Whether you celebrate the birth of Christ or simply the commercial side of the season, your focus is probably pretty similar to ours – experiencing joy and sharing whatever you have to offer in a way that suites you. Deep down, we all want to be acknowledged as worthwhile, so please keep that in mind as you go about your busy lives this holiday season. Take a minute to share your joy.
We wish you good health, happiness, a secure future and an abundant life. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
As I finish writing this post, the temperature in South Florida has dipped into the 40’s and I have pulled on a pair of jeans, a sweater and closed toe shoes! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….time for cocoa!