So This Is Christmas

Dec 20 2021, 7:00 am in , ,

Does your Christmas taste, smell, feel and look like mine?

Doubt it. When we think of the ways Christmas and its many traditions is celebrated we think nationality and continental differences. Here in the US Christmas is celebrated in dozens if not hundreds of different ways. Maybe you go to Chandler Arizona to see the lighting of the tumbleweed tree.

To the Plaza in Kansa City (with three hundred thousand other people) to see the lights come on.





Or, in St. Augustine Florida, The Nights of Lights, to see the whole town lit up and boats in the bay decorated in their holiday finest.







During Christmas do you see what I see?

I grew up in Florida. Christmas never included snow. I do see white, but its beach sand. Inside and outside Florida homes are different than homes in the north. Our wreaths are fragrant cedar boughs or magnolia leaves, decorated with holly and massive pinecones. Garlands are the same material, all of which we gathered ourselves. Table decorations could be palm fronds, magnolia leaves, holly and citrus fruit punctured with cloves. 

I decorate with Santas in flower print shirts and sandals.

On my tree are twinkle lights covered with shells and plastic flamingos and starfish.

Outside I see poinsettias in gardens


Palm trees, not Fraser firs, wrapped with Christmas lights. After Christmas I see Santa, in his bright print shorts, riding a yellow bicycle on the beach or surfing. No joke.

How does Santa arrive at your house? In Florida, doors are left unlocked cause chimneys are few and far between. Santa can come in a boat pulled by dolphins or alligators. His helpers are big burly guys called Bubba who help deliver gifts by truck.


In Hawaii he goes between the islands dressed in print shorts and sandals in an outrigger canoe pulled by four pigs. His helpers are the Menehune. Little people of the islands who live in the deep forest.

In Norway he dresses in a heavy woolen red outfit and arrives in a sled pulled by reindeer. His elves help deliver the gifts.

Santa appears to some children in a Marine Corps dress blue uniform.

During Christmas do you hear what I hear?

How do you say Merry Christmas? Around here it’s likely to be, “Y’all have a Merry Christmas.” Or maybe, according to your heritage, you say one of these.

Mele Kalikimaka- Hawaiian

Feliz Navidad- Spanish

Joyeux Noël – French

Fršhliche Weihnachten! – German

Buon Natale! – Italian

I will also say I’m far more likely to hear boat motors then sleigh bells.

Do you smell what I smell?

In Florida, as I mentioned, many Christmas wreaths and garlands were made with cedar branches. A decidedly different scent than the fir and pine boughs used in northern regions. The citrus punctured with whole cloves.

Paper white narcissus. O. My. I can’t describe the scent other than to say it’s Christmas to me.

Do you feel what I feel?

Christmas here feels warm. No need for seven layers of clothing when you are out and about. Even though the evenings can be chilly and damp and a bit foggy this time of year many holiday parties are indoor/outdoor by the pool gatherings. Or, outside around a fire pit for an oyster roast.

You certainly don’t feel terrified you’ll slip on the ice and break your bright and shiny hiney or, some reindeer is gonna run you over. You might want to keep an eye out for gators though.

Do you eat what I do?

My Christmas food experience has a Spanish influence. Paella, saffron rice cooked with chicken, pork, and a variety of seafood.  Frittata, (a potato omelet) roast pork, flan, and citrus rind candy. Thin sliced jamon and Manchego cheese. Ali Oli, a garlic, mayonnaise like, spread eaten with crispy bread slices. (BTW we were never bothered by vampires.)



No Christmas was complete without a Spanish almond nougat candy.







Every family has their own special tradition. My children received Christmas lifesaver boxes in their stockings and to this day they don’t think it’s Christmas without them.

Do you have your celebration Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

Christmas Eve a dear auntie would smoke a stogie and drink down three fingers of bourbon.

                                                                             She did it until she was 85.

Where ever you are, however you celebrate Christmas I wish you love, peace and happiness.

With the joys of social media we get to see what Christmas is like around the globe. Please share what the sight, sounds, tastes, smell, and feel of Christmas is to you.






home | about rita | books | character interviews | extras | contact

© 2010-2024 Rita Henuber. All rights reserved.