Holiday Warmth in Florida
When I first moved to Florida in the spring of 2008 I was really curious about how folks would celebrate the holiday season in a warm climate. Coming from the Northeast, I couldn’t quite imagine people in T-shirts and shorts merrily singing “Let it Snow.” As it turns out, that is exactly what happens. People wear Santa hats to the beach, too.
I would have thought celebrating the holidays with snow motifs might be done as comic irony, but that doesn’t seem to be. In the end, a symbol is a symbol.
Whatever religious or secular holiday you might celebrate during the winter months, snow is a symbol of the festive time fast approaching. This seems to be true no matter the actual weather.
I had also mistakenly believed that once here a few years I would get used to a warm-weather holiday season. The fact is, my delight that the only snow I will see this year is symbolic does not seem to diminish over time.
If you, like me, are a non-native getting ready to celebrate the winter holidays in Florida, here are some things that might be helpful to know.
- When decorating the outside of your Florida home for the holidays, there are three important considerations. First, your lawn is a legitimate place to arrange some festive lights – I mean, you can actually place the lights directly on the ground. Second, winding lights around the trunk of your palm trees is de rigueur year round and cannot, in and of itself, be considered holiday decoration. Finally, amid your blow-up snow globes and sleighs make sure you leave enough room for your grill and patio furniture. You’ll need it for holiday entertaining.
- Christmas is for barbeque. That’s right. As signs throughout Publix supermarkets proudly declare, there is no better time to gather the neighbors and get your grill on than…Christmas. While ribs are a popular holiday treat, don’t forget there are many fine ways to cook your whole holiday turkey on the grill!
- You don’t have to dine in the dining room. There are so many important decisions to make about your holiday meals. Here in Florida there are options we didn’t have back home. You can eat your dinner on the patio, the deck or the lanai. Don’t know what a lanai is? You must not be from around here.
- Dress for the occasion, not the weather. Knit hats, scarves and boots look super-cute with short shorts or sundresses. You can even buy fashionable jackets that look like parkas. Your Florida parka is about as warm as the fake snowstorms at the outdoor shopping malls are cold, so don’t bring it on your ski trip.
- Seasonal foods are delicious on the beach. Don’t forget to pack plenty of holiday-inspired treats in your beach cooler. Nothing is more delicious after a refreshing ocean swim than a piece of pumpkin pie.
Wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, the holiday season is upon us. I must say I greet it with a bit more joy knowing that the only thing I’ll be shoveling this winter is my garden.
One thing I’ve learned from celebrating the holidays in Florida is this. Our seasonal festivals are an important part of who we are. Weather changes a lot of things, but it doesn’t change our need to gather our friends and families and celebrate our traditions together.