Well, the holidays are over and it's time to return to work on your daily grind.
Thank goodness! It's about time.
I love this time of year, but it makes you just want to pull your hair out sometimes. Take, for example, the large group of family and friends to come out of the woodwork at this time of the year, people that you haven't seen in a year and expect a better gift than what you got them last year. They especially seem to show up when you've forgotten about them or planned on them not to show up at all. And they usually come bearing gifts -- a tie, a pair of socks, tickets to the Sugar Bowl, a new Lexus. You feel terrible, until you get behind the wheel of your luxury sedan, which seems to help you forget a lot of things.
My family and I decided to spend the holidays in Tennessee this year. Now, my vacation started at the first of December, so before we went to the mountains I decided to spend some time with old friends down in South Florida, which has as much a Christmas feel to it as the Fourth of July does in Iraq!
But it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
Now, most of you know that I lived in Florida for about five years in a little place called Miramar. For those of you that don't know, it's a small community on the Broward-Dade county line next to Miami. It is where they dump the murder victims when they run out of dumpster room in Miami.
Christmas is an entirely different ballgame in South Florida than it is in Tennessee. The closest thing to a sleigh ride is driving in the HOV lane, on I-95, in a convertible. Palm trees get decorated with lights, as well as the cedars and pines, and Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," a steadfast Christmas carol for years, has been replaced with "Feliz Navidad."
The entire two weeks I was there I can't remember wearing a pair of pants or jacket, the temperature was too warm to require it. I did wear a pair of slacks out to eat one night, and I felt drastically out of place.
After my two weeks were up, I packed up and went to Tennessee -- Pigeon Forge, to be exact -- to spend Christmas with my family and some friends, a few members of the Bulldog Gang. I must say that the beauty of this place was simply indescribable. Not to take anything away from the beauty of South Florida, but the Great Smokey Mountains will humble you and show you just how small you really are on this great planet.
The second thing I learned is that you can never carry too much clothing! For a trip that lasts about a week I usually carry a suitcase and carry on. But in a place where the high temperature gets to about 25 degrees, it was not enough. I should have had my own U- Haul with sweaters and jackets only!
The weather made sitting inside and playing video games by the fireplace a wise thing to do. Believe me, my respect for the Cherokee Indian has more than tripled.
Anyway, I am back home and loving it. The mailbox was filled with new bills, the newspapers were stacked on the front porch, the leaves need to be raked up, and somebody's dog left me a gift on my back porch. But at least, around here, I can say something without someone laughing about my accent.
As the ever-wise Dorothy once said "There's no place like home!"