Florida Life

Home for the Holidays – Part Two: Staying Home

There is such comfort I feel when driving around my neighborhood, seeing all the places I spent time as a child. Yesterday, as I worked to tackle my pre-Thanksgiving to do list, I made it a point to take the back roads and drive around my hometown. Neighbors who have known me since I was a baby walked along the sidewalks and worked out in their yards. Homes that have been a favorite sight of mine since childhood began to transform into winter wonderlands. I drove past the former home of my grandmother, which then became the home of my brother, sister in law, and nephew. Although, sadly, they moved away to Georgia, the treehouse they built still sits in the backyard; I smile. Church bells ring on the hour. My heart filled with gratitude.

Many people travel back home for Thanksgiving. They spend time with family and visiting the sights of their childhood memories. Every day I experience these moments. I spent my college years, as well as my first few post-college years, living near the attractions area, which is about 25 miles away from where I grew up. Although the distance is not that great, it might as well be across the country. The attractions area differs tremendously from the suburbs and residential areas just a 30-40 minute drive away. For me, it felt like living in the big city; traffic jams, crowded stores full of tourists, chain restaurants everywhere and not one ‘mom and pop’ place to be found.

About three years ago my parents headed into retirement and moved to Cedar Key, FL. They asked if my husband (then fiance) and I wanted to move into their house, the house in which I grew up, and eventually purchase it from them. It was a difficult decision to be honest, because we both work deep in the heart of the attractions area. However, it meant we would be closer to my stepson and have more space than we could possibly afford in the hustle and bustle of the theme park neighborhood. Now, we are homeowners. Occasionally Frequently, we curse our hour long commute, questioning our decision. But then the weekend comes and the holidays roll around. The quiet, quality time takes over and it becomes clear.

As I write this, the turkey is in the oven filling the house with a buttery, rosemary fragrance. Two of my three Christmas trees  are up, which includes the “big tree”, the same tree I helped my mom put up and decorate all throughout my childhood. It sits in the same spot it has been in for over thirty Christmases. Ornaments my mom made by hand forty years ago when her and my father first married, hang on the branches. Decorations I loved as a child now rest of the bookcases that have been in this house since the 1970’s. I look out the windows to see the same neighbors I have had since I was a baby. I am truly full of thanks, there is no place I would rather live.



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