The new Florida house at Christmas
It’s been a bit of a challenge to decorate my new Florida house for Christmas when it reaches 85 degrees outside some days. So, I turned down the air-conditioner, put the fireplace channel on the TV and told Alexa to play holiday music and opened the green Rubbermaid bins.
Well, the poor 17-year-old tree we dragged from New York to our new home, I’m sorry to say, didn’t quite make it. The tree trunk wasn’t fitting into the base and Pete’s sledgehammer work caused its demise. Pete was pleased as punch and hoped that was the end of the Christmas tree decorating as we know it, but conveniently Costco still had a few trees for sale! This new tree is super easy to assemble and has multiple options for the pre-attached lights: colored, white, blinking, slow going on and off. Whatever brings you joy this season right?
Speaking of joy, I went back to my first couple of years after Mike died and read the Christmas blog posts. As a new widow, I was overwhelmed by the idea of Christmas and seeing all the wonderful memories represented by the assorted ornaments we had gathered over the years. By the third year, I was ready to decorate again but only used white ornaments and lights. It looked pretty but I still kept all the sad feelings at bay. In contrast this year, all the ornaments came out. I played “Let it Go” and bagged up a bunch of decorations that I was ready to part with. A few trips to Goodwill pared down some of the excess. This year our tree is colorful and full of joy and happy memories. Some days I even use the colored lights instead of the classic white lights, because it just feels good.
I won’t see my kids for the actual holiday days this year. They live far away and I will miss them, but I was lucky to be able to fly to New York City last weekend and spend two fabulous days with both boys. I took them to the Central Park Zoo and we walked around the tree at Rockefeller Center and ate all the best New York foods. It was just the three of us and I’m still smiling over the precious time we shared.
We ran into some delays with furnishing our home due to I imagine the barges out at sea filled with couches and tables and more. After six months, we did get a Tommy Bahama bedroom set delivered which is so pretty and I set it up with the old Florida pictures and some palm trees. Our office has a bit of shelving and we can display all the little knick-knacks we couldn’t part with. The big desk invites writing and I finished my book and have sent it off to several agents. It could be a while before it is published, but it was cathartic to write out my story.
When we first moved in we had the carpets in the bedroom replaced and painters freshen up the walls. The kitchen is relatively new as the house is only 8 years old, yet it seemed awfully white to me and my life is ready for some color. So an easy fix was to add a colorful turquoise tile backsplash. I ordered reasonably priced tiles from Wayfair and found a local installer on the Nextdoor app who did good work and finished in two days.
The couches and rug from New York fit nicely in the living area but with the open floor plan, we now needed a new dining table. My last table was a St. Vincent de Paul $60 special that came with a hutch that I sanded the top of and painted the legs and hutch a matching dark red. That temporary solution lasted 19 years. Now, as a grown-up, I wanted a nice table. We ordered one in August and after two months of waiting, were told they hoped to get it by the end of February. We canceled that order and went to the local Amish furniture store. They worked with us to design a beautiful table with a river of Caribbean blue epoxy down the center. I love the look. It brings the home together with some other different pieces we got.
The lanai is still my favorite spot in this house and I’m working on changing my plain white mirror into a Floridian masterpiece of shells. Gorilla glue is working well and I even have a few beads from my mom’s old costume jewelry which I plan to add to the frame toward the end. I am becoming quite crafty in my retirement years.
Finally, one of the best parts of living in a golf community in Florida is having a golf cart! Pete let me pick the color and I love this one. We have taken it out golfing, drove around the streets to the community centers, and participated in the “Foolishly Festive Christmas Parade”. I recruited my niece and her friend to join us and dress like Elsa and Anna from the Disney movie Frozen. I wore an Olaf the snowman costume and Pete played along and dressed as Kristoff. Even Harry got lots of oohs and ahhhs from the sidelines in his adorable Sven the reindeer costume. He is such a ham, people would approach the cart during the parade to take his photo, and would you believe, he would smile for them!
I’m still working with the horses and got myself a wetsuit which I’ll need as the water temperature is getting a bit chilly. We have a wonderful group in Bradenton abbreviated BAGS (Beautifully Aging Girlfriends). The founders started this group over the summer and already have 2500 members. Different activities are offered like lunches, walks, book clubs, card games, arts and crafts etc. I have gone to a few and met some really nice people. I’m so glad they started this here.
It’s a great feeling to finally settle in. Boxes are unpacked and furniture is set up. No regrets on moving to Florida or retirement. Hope to see some friends from the North down here this winter. Love to all and Merry Christmas!
This was my first Christmas without my husband Chris, who passed 9/4/21 over Labor Day weekend. It was covid. I’m in such a dark place, and have some good days. I feel I have no purpose when i wake up. I do have my 24 yr old son with me, but obviously not the same.
I am so sorry for your loss. COVID has been awful! It’s early on so be gentle with yourself. No more than. 3 things to do each day and keep looking for those good moments. Thanks for reading.