Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ready or not, here comes Christmas...

It's hard to believe that Christmas is finally upon us. To me it always seems as though the first ten months of the year drag on for ages, but once you reach November 1st, the Earth steps up its rotation like it's trying to win a race. We spin through the holidays like spinning tops on the deck of a swaying ship and stumble forth into the New Year with the last crush of a brisk wave. It makes for eight weeks of chaos, but leaves decades of memories in its place.

For me, many of those memories have taken place inside the state of Alabama. My mom is a native of Wetumpka, Alabama (a tiny spec of a town just northeast of the state capital, Montgomery). Most of her family still lives there, and so it is that we've spent many a Christmas holiday nestled in the arms of our Dixie-dwelling relatives. In fact, I was six weeks old when I spent my very first holiday in Alabama in December of '84.

Tomorrow we'll be taking off for the first half of the trek and will arrive on Christmas Eve at The Nana's house (The as in The One and Only). Aunts, uncles, cousins and other extraneous members will pass through over the next few days and eventually my parents and I will make our way back home feeling like we were there too long and not long enough, at the same time.

This year (being a monetarily challenged, unemployed, recent college graduate) I decided to make my family members a DVD with a slide show of photos from our many shared Christmases in Alabama. I've shared a few of my favorite photos down below.

But in addition to sharing the holiday spirit with my family, I'm also going to be taking some notes during this year's Christmas voyage. I've recently decided to stage the sequel to "Ancient City Christmas" in Alabama. I hope to return to St. Augustine for the third and final book, but in the meantime I think my home-away-from-home would be an excellent place for Bailey Hamilton and her whacky family to gain some perspective and perhaps take a second chance on love...

Well I sincerely hope everyone has a wonderful holiday--whatever holiday it is that you celebrate. If I could just make a few recommendations for getting the most out of the holidays, I would suggest: (1) Hug at least one person you love with gusto; (2) Eat an extra serving your favorite holiday food (for me, that would be my mom's stuffing); and (3) When your whole family is gathered together, step outside and look at them through the front window--you'll be surprised what you can see from an outsider's perspective.

Later days,

That's me on the left (in the stripes) with (from left to right) my great-grandmother (MawMaw), and my cousins Stacy, Jennifer, Jessica, Sian, and Christopher.

Here's me again with my great-grandparents, MawMaw and Pop. When they were still around, we would gather at their house in the country with the whole extended family (The Nana has six brothers and sisters!).

I love this picture of my cousins Jessica and Christopher enjoying the best Christmas present you can ever give a child--the ability to use his or her own imagination.

This is from my second Christmas in Alabama. I'm the little tyke down in front in between my two grandmothers--my Grandma Grace (in the red dress) and The Nana. I wish I'd been old enough to appreciate how lucky I was to have them both with me at the holidays.

Here I am (already representing for Florida State at such a young age) with The Nana and my cousin Christopher. I'm not sure what we're doing, but it looks like we're having a blast.