Circle of Faith::a Florida Christmas...

We buy our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and the six grandlittles (ages 3, 3, almost 5, 6, almost 9, 9) are the first to decorate it. We set out all the unbreakable ornaments and let them decorate however they want to, which means only the bottom of the tree is decorated when they are finished, and as you can tell by the photo in the bottom right, many of the branches droop under the weight of multiple ornaments. I kept the tree just as they decorated it for almost a week before I did a little rearranging and added the breakable ornaments. It's a family tree, with lots of handmade ornaments, and I love it just the way it is.

I can count my experiences with snow on one hand.

It snowed enough one night--when we lived in north Florida almost forty years ago--for a few flakes to accumulate on top of Louis' motorcycle helmet. I could see it from the window of our second floor apartment.

That might have been the same year Louis and I camped in the Blue Ridge Mountains after an early spring snowfall. Unable to find dry wood for a fire, we put on every layer of clothing we could and went to bed before dark--huddling together in our sleeping bags. The wind howled throughout the night and we woke up in the morning to find that our pup tent had collapsed on top of us. After only one night, we packed up our gear and headed home. Naïve and ill-equipped native Floridians that we were, it's grace we survived.

In January 2005, Emily and I were gifted with a trip to Washington, D.C. for Bush's Inauguration. We stared in awe and delight through the hotel window as snow fell throughout the first night we were in D.C. It was so pretty to watch, but navigating the slippery sidewalks and standing outside in the wet snow all day Inauguration day tempered any enthusiasm I might have had for snow.

Snow at Christmas was never my experience, but I grew up believing that it should be. My mother played Bing Crosby's "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas," and Nat King Cole's "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" for weeks while we decorated our home with snowflakes cut out of folded paper and hung them from the windows she had sprayed with fake snow from a can. It was often warm enough to go swimming, but we still decorated the Christmas tree--set up next to the fake fireplace--with snowmen, snowflakes and icicles Clearly a cheap imitation of the Hallmark Christmases we apparently tried to emulate.   
Somewhere between growing up, growing older and growing in Christ, I decided to boycott anything to do with snow at Christmas and began to appreciate what makes Christmas in Florida different from much of North America. Like many places throughout the world, including Bethlehem and most of the Southern Hemisphere, Florida's warm, snowless Christmas is as real as the cold, snowy Christmases I grew up thinking were more authentic. Over the years I replaced my snow-themed decorations and ornaments (except for those with sentimental value) with those with a more tropical flavor, like poinsettias, pine cones and shells. 

More importantly, I embraced the truth that it's not the weather outside or the adornments we hang on our tree and use to decorate our home, but the One we adore in our hearts that makes Christmas authentic and gives us real joy. Everything else is the cheap imitation.

This post is my contribution to a monthly blog circle "Circle of Faith in Words and Image." The theme this month is Christmas. Please visit the blogs of my sweet friends in the circle linked below:

Julie at Captured Bits of Beauty
Marty at What Marty Sees
Connie at Live, Laugh, Love and Hope