Well, ho-ho-ho, it’s that time of the year again!
It’s the time of the year when nearly all Floridians are hailed by their temporary Yankee neighbors with the traditional greeting, “Geez, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas inFlorida.”
(You can if you’d like alter that slightly, of course, to say, “Geez, it just doesn’t feel like Hanukkah inFlorida.” But truth be told, most Jewish folks are smart enough and reasoned enough not to associate the great triumph and resilience of the Maccabee children with bone-crunching cold, life-threatening conditions and enough snow piled on the roof to cave it in, crushing the Christmas tree…or Menorah, whichever.)
But if you’re a Floridian, born or adopted, you’ve no doubt run across at least one moron every year who will complain about the warmth of the December sun, the gentle Gulf breeze, the tranquil surrounding nature, the moderate nights filled with jasmine and remark that, somehow, Christmas just shouldn’t be spent in such idyllic and temperate latitudes.
They seem to think Christmas just “isn’t right” unless they are buried under three feet of snow in sub-zero temperatures, battling frozen water pipes and hoping to the Baby Jesus electricity doesn’t go out again because they only have enough fire wood for one more night.
I blame Currier & Ives. I also blame Charles Dickens. Perhaps these folks would be happier at Christmas if we didn’t have child labor laws, environmental regulations or systematic care for the infirm. I don’t know.
Some folks just can’t bear the thought of a Christmas Day sail on warm waters or a Christmas Eve stroll on the beach at sunset. They are, frankly, demented.
This malady can even run in one’s own family. My very own Florida-girl darlin’ daughter used to think she just had to be in the mountains of Western Carolina at Christmas because, who knows, it COULD snow!! (Okay, let’s recall…two Christmases ago stranded without power for three days under nearly four feet of snow, couldn’t even get there last year because of the snow…hmmm…she may have changed her mind.)
When she was a child, I took great delight in pulling out the globe (remember those?) and drawing a line west, right along the latitude of old Bethlehem to…to…to…well, I’ll be darned, NOT to a point that would ever be immortalized in a Currier & Ives print.
Nope. Old Bethlehemis just a skosh north of the 31st parallel, which places it on exactly the same latitude as one of the many hick towns in South Georgia (USA) between Jacksonville and Savannah.
And given the moderate, Mediterranean-warmed climate of Palestine, I’d be willin’ to guess there were palm trees just outside that stable on that miraculous night.
Maybe the cattle were lowing because they feared getting bopped on the head by a falling coconut. No, probably not.
In any event, the point is Christmas is not about cold and snow and sleigh rides and stealing someone else’s maple syrup. Nope. Christmas is about the greatest gift every given: the reconciliation of humankind with our God. That, my friends, can be celebrated any-dang-where you feel the spirit – especially in Florida.
Bein’ born to a Florida-girl mother but raised as a mountain child, I can testify that it was never, really, truly Christmas until we reached the orange groves and palm-lined yard of my cracker grandparents. Suckin’ down a fresh cut temple orange or playin’ football on that spongy Floratam lawn was always the single best annual gift. It was the Floridian my soul.
So, the next time some crank wanders up to you and says something really stupid like, “It just doesn’t feel like Christmas in Florida,” you just turn to them, smile and hand them a Honeybell orange. They’ll be tradin’ Currier & Ives for Clyde Butcher before you know it.