Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Florida style

**lots of photos**

Well, I'm back from vacation!  My family and I went to Florida for Christmas this year and it was absolutely perfect.  As you've seen from my pictures I left a lot of snow and chill and arrived in 80 degree beach weather!  In the area we went it was actually unseasonably warm but I was soaking it all up like a lizard on a rock.
My brother met my Mom and I and we all stayed at my Grandma's house.  This is the first day at the beach.  The time stamp will be off on all my pictures due to the time zone difference.  This is Coquina beach, it was just gorgeous.  The sand was like sugar, white and powdery.  
Joab and I stayed until the sun went down, it was so beautiful.
It was great watching the ball of light drop down, down, down and then disappear below the horizon.  It reminded me of watching the ball drop on New Year's Eve.  Counting down, then celebrating the reward of beauty, peace and color.

From the time we started planning the trip I said I wanted to go to Harry Potter World in Universal Studios in Orlando, FL.  Joab said he'd go with me and I'm glad he did, we had SO much fun together.  I don't know what I was expecting, but it hadn't occurred to me that there would be roller coasters!  The dragon ride in the Harry Potter area was a blast, we rode it 4 times!  

We also rode a bunch of other rides, the Hulk ride was amazing!  I'm actually afraid of heights and get vertigo easily so I had to take a break after a couple rides in a row.  After the Hulk ride, we got off and looked at each other, "want to go again?" YEP! Then we'd race back around the line and go right back on!  By closing I wanted to cut my feet off they hurt so badly but it was worth it!
One of the big treats for all of us was going to see my Uncle George at the theater!  He was the general in a musical called A White Christmas, based on the movie.  It was so, so special!  He did such a good job and everyone had a great time.  I have a small family that is far-flung, so it was really meaningful that we could spend this holiday together.
On Monday we went to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.  Their house is also available for viewing and we sat out on the terrace that overlooks the bay.  My Uncle George and his wife, Betty, were with us and we had lots of time to stroll and chat and enjoy the day together.
On Tuesday, Christmas Eve, Joab and I took our last trip to the beach for a couple hours.  The temps had dropped a bit (70 degrees is rough! LOL) so people were scarce on the beach.  We were beach bums, just laid right in the sand on towels and just soaked it all in.  

Christmas Eve night was very special.  My Grandma's church had a candlelight service and we didn't know until the day before that Grandma was going to be singing in it!  Oh, what a treasure that memory is.  Watching her sing Happy Birthday to the King is indescribable.  Tears just streamed down my face.  And then, at the end the whole congregation was in a big circle in the dark, taking turns lighting each other's candles.  Something about each of us lighting the other's candle just hit my heart and I was crying again!  Oh well, I think it's pretty expected for me to be emotional :) 

George and Betty had us all over for Christmas dinner, it was wonderful!  This is their Dickens Studio 56 Christmas village lit up at night.  Doesn't it look almost real?  My imagination sometimes works overtime.  Betty cooked "standing rib" which turned out to be prime rib.  When they said standing rib I was picturing ribs all in a circle with the meat on the bottom.  It was perfect, delicious.  And, true to our family form there was lots of pie to (over)indulge in!  Best.

I think all in all it was the best trip possible.  With everything that has happened this year, Scott being gone, I really needed to be around my family.  I'm so glad that they were game.  And now, here I am at home, alone with my pooches.  My mind is swirling with memories, my heart is full and yet also broken, bittersweet.  We just never know what the future will hold and so I am thankful for my memories, new and old.

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