It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Christmas



A local weather forecaster reminded me that in a few days it will be winter. The predicted high in Zone 10 for the day is 80 degrees, and I have to ask myself: “This is Christmas?”

It’s a lot like the question most people ask whenever I tell them I’m spending the holidays in south Florida. “Does it even feel like Christmas there?” they wonder. “I don’t think I would enjoy Christmas down there. How can it even feel like Christmas?”


I’ve often thought the same thing through all of my northern Christmases, even though a white Christmas was never guaranteed on Long Island. There were many years when it was spring-like and others when it was cold and rainy. Nevertheless, I was a Christmas weather snob. Only northern locations could get the full holiday effect. After all, I reasoned, Christmas in Fort Lauderdale would be like, well . . . would be like a Christmas without snow.  Guaranteed!


An obvious observation, I know, but one that is also quite profound — because now that I’m here for the holidays, I’m forced to consider if weather really makes Christmas feel more like Christmas.

This thought dawned on me as Joe and I, wearing shorts and sandals, purchased our Christmas tree on a 75-degree day. I added a sweatshirt to at least create the illusion that there was a chill in the air.

As we inhaled the fresh pine, I listened to the Christmas music coming from the speakers. There was lots of dashing through the snow and Jack Frost nipping at my nose, but nothing of tanning on the sand and sun burning my nose.


In fact, all of the carols playing on that warm December day had a decidedly chillier slant. Other than “Mele Kalikimaka,” there are very few Christmas carols that celebrate warm weather. Even Darlene Love’s monologue in her cover of “White Christmas,” the one where she mentions “the orange and palm trees sway,” ultimately has her longing to be up north.

By the time we purchased our tree and loaded it onto my pick up truck, I was a melted mess — off came the sweatshirt and on went the air conditioner and I said to myself that if this is Christmas in Florida then perhaps I shouldn’t bother with Christmas at all.


It was a definite Scrooge moment — and I like to think Charles Dickens thought the same thing and so placed A Christmas Carol in a wintry, snowy London rather than, say, in Key West.   I really can’t imagine Scrooge being Scroogey while strolling along palm- and hibiscus-lined lanes.  For proof, consider what the tropics did for Marley. Bob Marley, that is.

In the weeks since we purchased our tree, I’ve tried to adjust to this new Christmas climate. Joe and I decorated the house, which is always a chance to get reacquainted with some old friends — but even the decorations seem a bit perplexed by the warm weather. I think they’re wondering if we’re hosting a Christmas in July party.


I’ve even immersed myself in my Christmas playlists — while I was outside weeding and planting, something I’ve never, ever done. This winter holiday with summer weather feels strange, like a sweater that has one arm longer than the other and a seam that slightly pulls to one side so your always trying to shift the sweater back in place.

It just doesn’t feel like Christmas.

I was about to resign myself to this admission when a moment happened. A local Florida town hosted a tree-lighting ceremony, with entertainment provided by the students from a local elementary school.


On the steps of city hall, the kids, dressed in red and white and wearing Santa hats, sang of snow and cold and winter wonderland delights for their families and friends and neighbors, all of whom wore summer clothing. Many of the kids had never experienced snow, Christmas or otherwise — but their enthusiasm and passion never wavered.


Their belief in Christmas was astounding, their feeling contagious — and their excitement grew with the announcement that in a few minutes, Santa Claus would be arriving atop a fire truck.

And under so many stars of wonder on this mild, calm December night, I realized that Christmas doesn’t care if you celebrate it in Alaska or Hawaii, New York or Florida.

Christmas is more than a feeling.  It’s a state of mind.

A Gardening Life Remembered

Lee May April 15, 1941 - December 3, 2014

Lee May
April 15, 1941 – December 3, 2014

When I started this blog, the first piece of advice I received was to find other blogs that I admired, blogs that I thought would appeal to the readers I hoped to attract. After scrolling through blog after blog, I found one that stood out from the rest.

It was classic and classy, well-written, witty, and wise.

It was Lee May’s Gardening Life.

I left a comment immediately and added the site to my newly learned term: a blogroll. For some time, Lee May’s Gardening Life was the only blog listed on that roll.

It had been a long time since I had written. Prior to blogging and prior to my life as a school social worker, I had been a journalist — but that was a long ago chapter in my life. So when Lee — a much-respected journalist — replied that he liked my writing, he provided water to my young sprouting blog and to my soul.

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Repost: To All The Christmas Trees I’ve Loved Before

Adonidia Palm -- also known as the Christmas Palm.

Adonidia Palm — also known as the Christmas Palm.

If there’s snow falling on this WordPress blog, it must mean that it’s December — and since I’m in south Florida at the moment, I have a feeling these digital dots may be the closest I come to the white stuff this holiday season.

Take, for example, my recent trip to purchase a Christmas tree.

In recent weeks, large tents have popped up all over. It’s as if lots and lots of circuses have come to town. But under these big tops — necessary to protect the fresh trees from the heat of the sun — freshly bundled Christmas trees are lined up like soldiers, the smell of pine is everywhere, and Christmas carols play from the speakers.

It’s also 75 degrees — and I’m wearing shorts and sandals, which are a far cry from my typical bundled-up Christmas tree shopping gear, although I did add a sweatshirt to at least create the illusion that it’s chilly.

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Wordless Wednesday: Warm Thoughts

Potting Bench

It wouldn’t be a Wordless Wednesday without a few words.

For months now, Joe and I have been in south Florida so I can better manage some heart issues. Being a garden blogger without a garden has been a recurring theme in many of my recent posts.

While I’ve tried to keep myself busy with rooting some clippings and edging out beds, I just haven’t felt settled. My thoughts continually return to my potting shed, which has been dormant for too long.

The other day, though, a very large package arrived for me. Once opened, I saw the dismembered pieces of a potting bench.  The pieces looked familiar.  It was my New York potting bench, the one that has sat unused in an empty potting shed.

Joe, with the help of our nephew, arranged to have it shipped to me.

Once it was rebuilt, it looked a little startled to be in zone 10.  This was unfamiliar territory.  Where’s the cold?  Where’s the snow?  And just what are these small lizards that seem to be everywhere?  I understood those feelings.

With a few accessories, the bench started to look more at home — and I now have a corner of the yard to call my own, a place to learn and experiment with the new plants around me.

Potting Bench

A Hat’s A Hat And That’s That


One of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make recently has had nothing to do with how my beds will look or what sort of mulch to use or which plants to purchase. No, my decision was much more complicated and personal than those trivial gardening matters.

I needed a hat.

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Making My Bed & Crying In It

Garden Bed

This is the start of the gardening season in South Florida, where the forecasters have proclaimed the end of the rainy season and the temperatures and humidity have dropped to more humane levels. For me, it’s a chance to make my bed, a garden bed in a yard that is absolutely bedless.

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For Canada. . .


Like much of the world, I am deeply saddened by the recent events in Canada.  My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who were lost, as well as for the spirit and strength of the Canadian people — some of whom are followers and readers of this blog.  As your national anthem proclaims:

“With glowing hearts we see thee rise,

The True North strong and free!”


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