|the colors of the Holidays...on the beach!|
|Bill and his glass of wine at the condo|
So we went to find it in another new place but, this time, away from our everyday home, a vacation from the RV! We booked a unit at the Sand Pebble Resort of Vacation Internationale (Bill’s time share) in Treasure Island, Florida, one of thirteen beaches around the Tampa Bay area, the region of west central Florida adjacent to Tampa Bay, almost 2 hours from Orlando. It is also known as the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area with an estimated population of 4 M.
|the quiet beach at the back|
Like the other years, we got busy looking for stocking stuffers for our Christmas Eve opening of gifts. Bill and I happily lost each other at the Mustang Florida Flea Market for an hour to hunt for the little treasures. Not satisfied with our haul, we went to the Tyrone Square Mall to complete our finds. Each stash was carefully guarded and closed tight so no intruder can take a peek until the proper time! I spent a total of $25; I hoped that Bill did not spend too much more!
|another kind of White Christmas...at the beach!|
|cigars being hand-rolled at Ybor City|
Then the next day we discovered legendary Ybor City in Greater Tampa, Florida which became the ‘Cigar Capital of the World’ after Don Vincente Martinez-Ybor moved his cigar factory from Key West to Tampa in the early 1900s. Other cigar-makers followed, building their own factories. Immigrants from Spain, Cuba and Sicily came to work in them, Romanian merchants opened stores while German lithographers brought the latest in technology to print the cigar labels. Today it is a lively entertainment and arts district, complete with demonstrations of hand-rolling cigars.
|at the condo's living room ready for Noche Buena|
On Christmas Eve, Bill and I attended a joyous mass at St. John Vianney in St. Pete's Beach, Florida with a little pageant of kids as angels, shepherds, and the Three Kings around the Nativity Scene at the altar. Then we came home to our Noche Buena of maple/honey glazed ham, Dubliner cheese, fancy crackers, and Christmas stollen. At almost the stroke of 12, Bill got his new polar bear jammies, pristine white hankies, and a heart warmer for cold hands! He definitely spent more! I got new diamond earrings (to replace the ones I had lost), new fit-over dark glasses (to replace the one I lost) plus a little purse! Talks with my kids on the phone capped our Christmas Eve.
|Sunshine Skyway Bridge|
|Christmas tree among the palm trees|
Christmas this year was surely different, reliving life in a condo. We found it in bits and pieces everywhere. But we found it most in us and in Him. We are a couple who found each other late in life but early in dreams. The Christmas spirit, after all, is the special kinship He has made possible and why we are here, together.