Living in South Florida means never seeing it snow on Christmas. It's 72 and sunny today, and later we'll BBQ burgers and ribs, and eat out on the lanai at the Tiki Bar.
I do miss some of my South Jersey Christmases though; sometimes my father would drive us down Ocean Drive, through Ocean City, Sea Isle City, all the way down to Wildwood and Cape May, just to see how crazy it was that these towns were all asleep. The traffic lights would be turned off for the winter; some would be covered with canvas bags to protect them from the weather. Stores would be closed and boarded up for the season. One house in fifty might have Christmas lights up.
We also had a tradition back then to go to the local department stores on Christmas eve, just before closing, just to see the toy departments in shambles. I remember very clearly going to Bradlee's in Pleasantville and seeing the toy shelves nearly empty. A few broken toys, open boxes and misc. trash littered the floor. There were very few people in the store. It was crazy. On more than one ocassion, when we got home Santa had come early and I got my gifts on Christmas eve. My whole family would come down the shore from Philly to our house. Christmas day would be filled with tons of food, cookies and toys. Ahhh.
Things are so different these days. I was in a department store this past weekend, and was very surprised to find a fully-stocked, neat and clean toy and holiday department. It's not that people weren't buying...the lines were out the door...it's just that stores have somehow figured out how to keep the stocks up. Maybe it has something to do with computerized inventory. Maybe it's because 35 years ago, store buyers knew exactly how much they'd need to get them through the season without overspending. Who knows.
So today we're opening gifts (my wife got me a great retro donut maker, among other things), drinking eggnog grog and watching old Christmas movies and shows, like we do every year. Later we'll have the BBQ, and enjoy the great weather. I love it, but I miss those Christmases from the old days.