That first Christmas and its summer-like weather was quite the novelty. Walking to the nearby shopping center in swim trunks, T-shirt and sandals, I fit in with the locals who just saw it as a way of life. Later, when the temperatures finally dropped below fifty I was amazed at how quickly the smell of smoke became noticeable as the natives and/or longer term residents from colder climes began to fire up the fireplaces as if it was in the twenties. But by my full second year, I understood the concept of the thinning of the blood and I would go jogging in sweats on days when I used to go in just running shorts and a top and that was back in Virginia on a day when it wasn't much above freezing. And my first real freeze, a night when it dipped all the way to the low twenties, made me glad that a Florida cold front usually just lasts for a night or two. It made me quickly realize that Florida is truly a land of extremes, either we get too much rain or we are begging for it and that is something that is difficult to get used to. And since the Sunshine State is often referred to as the lightning capitol of the world, my view of electrical storms has morphed into recognizing both the power and the glory it displays. If you think a fireworks display on New Year's is beautiful, take the time from a safe vantage point to watch the beauty of a thunderstorm and it will put you in awe.
Finally, as the little slide show above shows, Florida also makes use of her very unique yet beautiful environs to celebrate Christmas in lights and amazing supporting display. Some of the light displays I've seen using palm trees are awesome and the only thing that can match them is the same process applied to Saguaro cactus in the desert of Southern Arizona. In both cases, the trees depict a vibrancy that their unique creation allows when lights are added. And if in the resort areas, consider a high rise tourist hotel where the entrance to each room is from the outside and the entry door lights on the outside are changed from standard white to an alternating green and red. That gives quite the impact with the trees and other decorations and it also tells me something else. Why wouldn't plants that thrive in dry climates be perfect for Christmas since the Baby Jesus was born in such a place. Perhaps the environment of America's semi-tropical paradise and her desert Southwest are the most appropriate places to represent the Spirit of Christmas. Then again, maybe it's just my mind working after too many years in Florida and those days that I spent in Arizona, but I really don't think so. In any event, if you ever get the chance to spend a Christmas down here or out there, I think you'll find it special. A look at the moon rising with the Christmas star bright over either Arizona's Catalina Mountains or the tranquil Florida Atlantic provides a peace at Christmastime that we all can understand. That's a memory and a feeling worth keeping for a lifetime.