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by Ron

This is the time of the year that we all think about family gatherings, festive meals and other traditional observances that we grew up with. A lot of full-timers still take part in the family holiday activities even if it means an airplane trip and some cold weather. Others have elected to start new holiday memories that may include stringing lights on a palm tree next to their RV. "Over the hills and through the snow to grandmothers house we go'" is not for them. Grandmother may no longer be with us. As for the snow---I'm past that.

Although we have only gone back to Michigan for Christmas once in fourteen years, Barb and I like to look back at the different type of holidays that we have had while full-timing. We have enjoyed beautiful candlelight services in many different churches and have always felt welcome. The south land doesn't lack for Christmas decorations and there may even be more because it's a lot easier to decorate in the sunshine than the ice and snow. The snow bird destination parks go all out with wonderful dinners as everyone supplements the park's donation of turkey, dressing and gravy. We even dress up and always enjoy the company of our park neighbors.  The Escapee Parks (SKP) are especially known for their holiday get-togethers because all of its members  have a special bond of being serious RV travelers and depend a lot on each other because they are often far from family. 

It's true that our house will not have a six foot fir tree and we can't hang stockings over the fireplace, but home is where the heart is and our little house will be decorated well as the steering wheel becomes a table upon which we set a small lighted artificial tree.  A tiny sleigh filled with presents will set atop the TV and there will be lights outlining our windows and awnings. While in Mesa we even had a pine tree at the front of our site that we decorated with lights and ribbons. Other folks at the snowbird parks decorate too and some parks even have contests. I guess we all have the time to fuss with these things. Cookies and fudge along with little gifts are exchanged. At one large park the clubhouse had a Christmas tree with paper stars bearing the name of a local child in need. We all would pick one or two and had fun shopping for the little ones. 

Of course the former family gatherings were great and we have good memories of those. Who can forget Uncle Mike's traditional red vest and excitement of the children. My sister and husband fly from Florida every year to be with family in Michigan and we commend them for it. Family reunions are fun, but often times we never get a chance to truly visit with each and every one. There is too much confusion and noise. It may be a sign of old age, but I really do like our one on one personal family visits as we travel throughout the year. Those times are precious to us as we  really get know our grandchildren and do things with their family.

It's not just full-timers that don't venture north for the winter holidays. Many seniors are only too happy to spend Christmas day setting by the pool with a glass of wine and visiting with friends and neighbors. Grandma doesn't have to work in the kitchen all day because her and grandpa will go out to a nice restaurant later. My times have changed. 

Everyone has their own way of celebrating the holidays and all of them are good. Whatever way you choose we wish you a very blessed holiday as you remember the "reason for the season." 

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