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Reflections on a Miami Christmas

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Reflections on a Miami Christmas

Merrick Park Christmas Tree, Coral Gables, Florida

Sean Lucas
Christmas in Miami. To many Northerners, this is an oxymoron. We have no snow, no reason to cuddle up in front of a fire, and no Christmas tree farms. We don't warm our bellies after a long sidewalk-shoveling using hot chocolate with little mini marshmallows. We can't even teach our children to catch snowflakes on their tongue or build a proper snow fort for snowball fights.

I have to admit, my first Christmas in Miami was a hard one for me. “Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch…”,”Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling yoohoo…”,”Come on, it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you!”; are there even any Christmas songs written with Miami in mind? Well, there’s I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, but that’s not really a joyous song for an anthem. Seeing lights spiraled up a palm tree was as surreal as the giant inflatable snowmen in every yard.

Over the years, I worked very hard to bring some of the Christmas of my childhood to life for my family. It’s a lot of work, but when the tree is lit, the snowy spray paint is dried on the windows, and the fire in our fake fireplace is lit, I could almost imagine that my boys were going to grow up with the “proper image” of Christmas. Recently I have had a revelation: I was turning into the Grinch.

Was it that I hated Christmas, the whole Christmas season? No that couldn’t be it, that wasn’t the reason. I was operating under the mistaken impression that ‘things’ were responsible for creating the Christmas spirit. What made Christmas special growing up? It wasn’t the snow or the hot chocolate on a cold night. It was the family, and the love, and the excitement of the holiday. It was anticipating the Christmas feast, and rushing for the stockings on Christmas morning. Can my boys do that in Miami? You bet. Can they feel the Christmas spirit despite the warm temperatures? You bet. Can they believe in Santa and try to stay awake to see him and Rudolph on Christmas night? You’d better believe it. And so what if we hang our magic Santa key on the door on Christmas Eve, the one that only He can use, instead of waiting for him to come down the chimney? And so what if my husband has to put on boots and track talcum powder from our fake fireplace to the presents for the ‘magic North Pole snow’? Those are their holiday traditions, and will turn into their holiday memories.

The heart of Christmas beats just as strongly if not stronger here in Miami, because we have to really work on the Christmas feeling. Everyone is still in the spirit; people smile and say Merry Christmas to strangers and bundle up in 60-degree weather as if a white-out is coming. We still believe in Santa and the magic of Christmas.

Oh, and one other thing: there are Miami Christmas songs. Feliz Navidad certainly brings the combined American and Latin spirit to Christmas. Jimmy Buffet asks ”How’d you like to hang your stockings from a great big coconut tree?” And the Bellamy Brothers give great instructions for “Having a Tropical Christmas.” Does Miami do it just a little different than the rest of the country? Sure, just like everything. Does it have all the spirit, magic, family and love I remember growing up in the snowy north? 110%, absolutely! Merry Christmas, Miami; you’ve opened my eyes yet again!

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