Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas in Florida is different!

Photo: Another neighbours' home during the Christmas light show.

Part of the reason for this blog is to compare differences between our old life in Florida, and our new life in Canada.

When I first went to Florida for a vacation to spend Christmas with my snowbird parents, (quite a few years ago) I noticed that Christmas in Florida was different. It was Christmas Eve, I was swimming in an outdoor pool, there were Christmas lights everywhere, and holiday music playing. To my Canadian sensibilities, this was an odd combination, since I was used to Dec 24th being COLD!

Canadians would be surprised to know that many Floridians go all out decorating for the holidays. I suspect it is the lack of snow, or the fact that it is warm enough to be outside for long periods of time decorating.

So, if Floridians go all out decorating their homes for Christmas, add to this that the last neighbourhood we lived in was known as the “Christmas neighbourhood”. Back in 1993 a neighbour was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the neighbours decorated their homes even more than usual to give her a beautiful Christmas. Her grateful husband continued the tradition the following year and collected money for Hospice. Every year since then the people in Lake Park Estates go all out decorating for the holidays, and now The Lights of Lake Park Estates has become known as the place to go in Tampa Bay to see holiday lights. So far nearly $500,000 has been raised for hospice.

Many evenings we would sit out with our neighbours and watch the people go by. Lots of buses, cars, and a couple of hayrides for the kids. Local tv news vans would come by and interview neighbours. The Harley Santas, a cycling club with lit bikes, and a very odd rocket ship carnival ride that had been dismantled, motorized, lit with holiday lights and playing holiday music would go by several times a night. It seemed the world came by our front door. The downside was that the world came by our front door and traffic was so backed up, there was no chance of going to the supermarket for milk if you ran out.

When the children were very small they did not realize they lived somewhere “different”. Every evening after dinner we would head outside. When my eldest was about 5 he asked me “why does everyone come to our neighbourhood to see the lights, why don’t they just look at the lights in their own neighbourhood”. He didn’t realize then that our neighbourhood was different.

In our new neighbourhood we have very pretty lights, and this year we have the snow to compliment them. It is beautiful to walk around in the evening.

The odd thing is, we have become used to the traffic, so our new neighbourhood seems to us oddly quiet. That’s not a bad thing. After 12 years of traffic it’s just a new experience for us.

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