No huge news for Christmas this year. Highly subdued on the home front, and as we were driving back to Florida for time with MIL, who has just moved into a new "assisted living" condo, highly subdued there. On the very morning, we spent about 30 minutes opening presents (Star Trek:The Original Series with the newly spiffed up graphics is MINE. I'm not so wound about spiffed up graphics as the old klutzy ones are endearing, but I'm quite pleased none the less.). My big gift this year was tires for my car. Otherwise, I got a new bathrobe because I don't own a bathrobe and I now live where bathrobes are really an important item of clothing, and a couple of very pretty dust catchers for my collectible dust catcher shelf. Also, good smelly stuff in delicious quantities. Oh, there's also a B&N gift card waiting to be plundered and an Amazon certificate to my credit. Really, not so bad.
Florida isn't "home" anymore, but it is familiar. It should be after some 43 years of living there. My first announcement upon crossing the state line was "Hey! Look! A Palm Tree that isn't on the back of someone's car!" The Upstate is very much lacking in live palm trees, but as the palm tree with the little moon is SC's symbol, stickers are everywhere.
The second thing to impress me is the wide sky. Now, sky is sky -- it's always up there. But, geography affects the appearance, and when one is used to a mostly flat geographical location, moving to hills and mountains and folds in the land changes the appearance of the sky. I hadn't noticed how small the sky in SC is until we went back to Florida. Upstate is not known for dramatic sunrises and sunsets. In fact, I can't recall a single one since I've been here. Sunrise means when the sun gets above the block of buildings and the trees and the hill on our east side. Sunset is hidden behind a fence and some trees and a bunch of buildings on a higher elevation. That seems true where ever we are. Things are oddly close in here.
Florida felt quite wide open by comparison. From MIL's 4th floor condo window, I saw a bit of the sunrise.
Third thing -- Spanish Moss. Again, not a common item in the Upstate. I hadn't thought about it since I can't remember when, but it's thick and heavy this year everywhere we went. Long grey tresses, bushy beards, huge masses of it dripping curtain-like from treelimbs and power wires.
The last big thing I noticed was related to that wide open sky. I can see weather coming in Florida. Clouds moved in rolls and billows. Long striated clouds welted like beach sand after a wave, piling up on one side and stretching out on another. It is possible to see the weather coming, to watch it progress, to time when it arrives and when it goes. In SC it seems that weather is always what's directly above my head. It comes in, featureless and concentrated. It stays for too long, whatever it is, and then it is gone suddenly. Also, it works backwards from what I knew -- in Florida in winter, rain means cold weather coming. Here, it means warm weather is likely to show.
We caught up with a few friends and spent hours in conversation, reciting the story of our time here, discussing again how open and uncertain our future is, hearing the news of a year we didn't see. I've never before left so completely my own past. My past has always hung close to me, memories painted onto places and locations and people. Now, the past is somewhere I go to visit.
Obviously, I stayed longer in Florida that I should have done, but that's what I have.
So, it wasn't the merriest and happiest of Christmases, but neither was it particularly sad. It was just a slightly noisier day than the rest.
Which, I suppose, means I'm an adult now. I do not like that part. Next Christmas I plan for something better.