The long white strands in his beard caught in the fibers of his bright red sweater and the white cotton ball collapsed forward from the back of his red cap and swung just beside his ear as he took a closer look at a bag of apples in the produce department of Wal-Mart. Li’l A watched him as her knuckles turned white clinging to the side of the cart. Her eyes shifted over to me, while most kids see Santa as the symbol of joy, Li’l A has always seen him as a real party crasher. She held her breath, was he watching her?
He looked up over his bag of apples and gave the kind of warm smile that even made my callused coat of apathy I always equip on a shopping trip in Hell melt. For the first time ever I saw A send a smile towards Santa.
Later that night, through the glass of our front door Santa stood with a kind smile and a pizza box from Dominoes. Li’l A raced to the door to catch it and as I opened the door Santa let out a hearty, “HO HO HO”. While mommy signed the ticket the girls danced with glee as he asked them how their Christmas had been this year. Absolutely magical I had thought.
I held low expectations for this Christmas when we first made the move to Orlando last summer. I understood new town meant new traditions and new traditions meant forced magic. But since the turkey has been cleared, this Holiday Season has been the most magical I have experienced since my own childhood. If Orlando understands anything, it is magic. From downtown structures illuminated in red and green to elaborately decorated parking lots and shopping malls, the magic is so very alive in Central Florida.
We of course have watched parades at Disney World, indulged in the most uniquely decorated walkways of Disney Springs, and have watched the entire community fall head over heels for this Christmas Season. Though we have been so incredibly busy taking in the festivities from Sea World, to Universal, to Disney, to downtown that finding time to really decorate the house itself has seemed quite the challenge.
Mr. R found it very necessary we have a 15 foot tree for our quite grand room, and of course, as we have learned is the way in Florida, the workmen we had hired to build just did not show up. Setting it up together though became a moment of magic in itself.
In the den we have our more modest tree, our family tree if you will. Presents already bulge out against the Polar Express train track that circles below it. By the light of this tree we try to indulge in hot cocoa, cuddles with the girls, and Christmas movies at least once a week, only made more magical by the sweet aroma of the freshly made batches of fudge setting out to dry on the kitchen counter.
We have also been blessed with a sea of work colleagues, friends, and family all visiting in the smoothest of synchronized transitions. The loneliness I have felt since moving here is definitely lifting, and the love I have wanted to possess for this city has definitely come to life. Today I watched middle aged man, for the briefest of moments that gravity would allow, spinning in midair and then to continue dancing down the public sidewalk with glee. The people of Orlando thrive on magic, and Christmas time definitely allows for so many opportunities to allow their unique personalities to shine!
The true festivities begin this weekend and will play out through Christmas Day and I cannot wait to continue to share the magic here in My Little Castle.