By DANA DITTMAR
As my husband and I spend our sixth Christmas here in Sun City Center, I am finally in a position to put up some decorations. There are lights out front and little touches all over the house. The other evening, after dinner with some friends, we all piled into our golf carts for an impromptu Christmas light drive around Kings Point. Usually a bastion of decorated yards, we were kind of disappointed that fewer and fewer folks are making the effort.
Nothing gets me in the spirit of the season more than driving through the neighborhoods and looking at all the yards and homes lit up with twinkling lights. It was a family tradition every year for all of us to pile in the car and drive around town on Christmas Eve, in awe of the various wonderlands we passed. There were deer and snowmen, Nativity scenes and candy canes, elves and Santas. As a child, it was magical.
As an adult, it’s nostalgic. Yes, it’s a pain and a lot of work to haul all of the decorations out of storage, climb the ladder, inflate the snow globe, rig the lights and make sure the wise men don’t fall over, but it’s so worth the effort. Even if all you can do is hang a wreath on your door (like we used to), it’s a sign to all that you share the importance of the season. And yes, I still drive around on Christmas Eve and stare in awe at all the lights.
I still can’t get into the snowflakes and sleds as my holiday theme. When it’s balmy and sunshiny outside, I’m thinking of dolphins pulling the sleigh and pink flamingos instead of reindeer. For our Snowbirds, I get they’re trying to make it look like up North. For us year-rounders who came here to get away from that scene, I want Santa in shorts and palm trees instead of Fraser Firs.
In years past, I took all this nostalgic energy and decorated the chamber instead of my home. Don’t worry. It’s all decorated this year, thanks to Darlene Allen, wife of our volunteer, Gordon, who came in and did a delightful job on our two trees. A Florida tree with birds and seashells on it, and there’s nary a snowman in sight. It’s heaven.
No matter what holiday you celebrate this time of year, it’s not whether it’s a Santa or a menorah in your yard, it’s the spirit of the season. It’s friends and family being in your heart, if not around your dinner table. It’s sharing your goodwill and best wishes with neighbors and strangers alike. It’s thinking of those less fortunate than ourselves and actually doing something to make their holidays better.
So here is a holiday wish for you from the staff and volunteers at your Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce. May your heart be open to love and good wishes. May you celebrate and honor the season in a way that speaks to you, and may you and yours be healthy and safe. Merry Christmas.