I am nearly finished writing Christmas cards for this year. Frankly, I never get tired of doing them year after year. Right now, our kitchen table is covered with five or six boxes of cards, since I enjoy sending different cards to different people, each with a different message or cover. I especially like sending those “Warmest Wishes” cards—you know the ones—they have beautiful palm trees or a sandy beach and the Gulf of Mexico on the front.
Those cards are sent especially to friends and relatives who live where it’s cold or are visiting up north. I am not trying to be cruel, really … just letting them know that living in paradise during Christmas is pretty fabulous, and snow is not necessary.
Of all the places around the country we have lived, the Christmas holidays here take on a different and wonderful flavor. Starting around the first of November of each year, hundreds of workers begin decorating everything that can be adorned with white and colored lights so that Naples is ready to glow by Thanksgiving night. Then, as if someone sprinkled pixie dust from a cloud, Naples is transformed from a beautiful tropical paradise to a magical, twinkling fantasyland—from boats to homes to hotels to shopping centers to community gates to hundreds of palm trees.
I confess, I worry about the palm trees—I wonder if all those little lights will stress them out. But then again, perhaps they enjoy it and are showing off their splendor for a time each year at night for a change.
I happen to have two favorite destinations during the holiday season—one is Waterside Shops. Each year, Waterside is decorated so beautifully that going shopping is an extra special treat during all the shopping mayhem. My other favorite is The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, with its amazing gingerbread house, a cast of fantasy characters roaming around, and the total transformation from an otherwise beautiful hotel lobby to what seems like a working Christmas village. It is worth an annual visit to see how The Ritz raises its own decorating bar year after year.
So many wonderful events make up Christmas/holiday celebrations here in our paradise—tree lightings with singers and musicians at many venues; Christmas parades on land and by boat; special concerts at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts and at various churches around town. It is such a busy yet splendor-filled time of year—and all without having to put on boots or mittens. I do so love living in paradise, especially at this time of year.
Now back to finishing those cards. Cheers, everyone!