We took the kids down to Florida for Christmas - John's parents live near Daytona Beach, and we haven't been down there for several years. They usually come up to New Jersey sometime in the summer, as three of their kids live here, but they didn't come this summer, so we hadn't seen them in a while. It was time.
We drove. It's not a challenging drive, but tedious, and slow before Christmas because it seems that everyone on the East Coast is driving south at that time of year. We "collected" license plates, because, you know, you have to, and got all but 4 states (Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming). And 3 or 4 Canadian provinces, too. There's a lot of cars on the road. We left Friday evening around 5pm, spent the night in Fredricksburg, VA, and then didn't get into the Daytona area until midnight because there was so much traffic.
And now it's easier to tell the story in pictures.
|Christmas morning, at my in-laws|
|William gave Rachel a small stuffed octopus that she was far more excited about than I expected.|
|John got a camera. He picked it out, shopped for it, bought and wrapped it himself. I feel no guilt; he's happy.|
|Monday, John's dad took all of us (and our niece and nephew) to visit the Fairchild Oak. It was big 400 years ago when Europeans arrived in Florida. I think one of the signs said it's estimated to be about 2000 years old.|
|Love the bit about "the follies of Mankind"|
|To say that it is dripping with Spanish moss is an understatement. And it should be in the dictionary under "gnarly". I don't mean the California definition, either.|
|John's sister and her husband had to work Christmas week so their kids came over and hung out at Grandma and Grandpa's with us. There was much video gaming on Wednesday. And another MineCraft t-shirt.|
It was a nice vacation, although without our usual Christmas rituals, the kids kept saying, "It doesn't feel like Christmas!" It was lovely to see John's parents, and we had a nice visit, but by the time we left, John's dad had a bad cold. Time to go. We drove home all in one LOOOONG day (about 16 hours), because it was forecast to start snowing/raining along the I95 corridor that night and we wanted to beat the snow home. It was nice to sleep in our own beds, but that's the only upside of doing it all in one go.
We had a quiet New Year's Eve, Rachel and JC each had a friend over for part of the day, but neither stayed past 10pm. So we all stood in the kitchen, counted down with the TV, shouted "Happy New Year!", gave each other kisses, and went to bed.
And now we are back to routine. School started on the 2nd, John leaves on a business trip to Toronto on Monday, band practice, dance class, midterms are in 16 days.... It's like we never even left.