Sunday, January 2, 2011

Going Bamboo for Christmas

The 2 weeks preceeding our Christmas vacation were pretty brutal. Aside from working almost 2 and a half weeks straight, my cousin ended up in the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit with a Traummatic Brain Injury. Meghan's sleep schedule and work schedule were erratic. Then she got into a small fender bender while I was away tending to my family. I've never seen her more at her wits end regarding an absolute emotional collapse. Suffice it to say, Fort Lauderdale was to be a huge break.

When our wheels touched down our spirits lifted. Warmth, sunshine, and the freedom of not having any responsibility except for grabbing our Rent-A-Car and heading to our B&B was liberating. They say it takes 3 days to find vacation mode. We hit our stride on day one.

Immediately after check-in, we walked to a great little beach bar named "Aruba". On the beach, next to the pier, live steel drum music in the background...heaven. And moreso...Shot of Johnny Walker Red, Corona...feeling great. Time to eat? Why yes, plate of Conch Fritters and the Lobster Salad Sandwich.

The sandwich needed salt, and needed something more than untoasted boring wheat bread. It needed a little more texture. I would even add Bacon. But the fritters...oh, the fritters...totally deceiving. On the outside, they were really dark brown...I thought they were burned. But on the inside, moist, doughy pillows of savory goodness with a right fine amount of conch. A couple more Coronas, and the walk back with a big stinky cigar had me feeling the vibe.

My vibe was the ghost of my last trip with my parents, six years ago to be exact. It was and continues to be a great memory. I was starting to date Meghan, my grandfather stayed with us in probably his last trip to Florida, and I feel like my parents finally started settling into a relaxation mode on vacation. Look, relaxation with mom and dad installs housework, yardwork, and then fixing dinner. It's something I cherish...but laying on the beach...not their forte. And finally, dad and I lounged on the opposing lawn chairs with Margaritas in hand for 20 minutes...or maybe 30. Listen, that's a HUGE step. I think mom even lounged by the pool while I painted. Suffice it to say, my relaxation mode hit its stride because I remembered all the great memories, and seized the moment with my new crew. Six years ago, I dreamt about dating Meghan. And there I was...married to the love of my life, hand in hand with her on the beach, same B & B Villa, same sun, same crystal blue waters, and seafood, mmm, seafood.

Each day of our Christmas was wonderful. Mary Ellen said, "This is the least stressed I have been for Christmas". And I would have to agree. We were on vacation and we officially went bamboo never leaving our place except for Christmas Eve and our jaunt to South Beach. On our last day, I spoke to my Uncle Rob on the phone and said, "I'm so sorry we didn't hang out more (we actually hung out three out of our 6 nights). We really enjoyed ourselves with you." And he replied, "Oh man, I can't believe you hung out so can be the pits, we were just so happy to see you guys."

In a time where Christmas can just get ridiculous with expectations and ostentatious presents, it doesn't surprise me that people give up on the holiday. I think it's our innate need to please...we give, and we give, and at some point when we can't give anymore. Exhausted, we become embittered. The next thing you know, you're so goddamned bitter, the magic of Christmas is lost. This year for me, Christmas was losing its magic. Call it working too much, call it a shitty year, call it cold winter depression. We weren't ready to celebrate, we weren't able to give anything more than what we had. Yet there we were, becoming recharged by the warmth and sun of Florida, and the hospitality of family who enjoyed us just for stopping by. Christmas was re-invented. Sometimes, you just gotta go bamboo.

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