On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, my husband Doug and I decided to stop in to our new neighborhood Graffiti Junction. We ordered two pints of Sam Adams Winter Lager, which was served to us in glasses adorned with snowflakes. As we sat down at an outside picnic table in the Florida sun, we started thinking about how hard it was to get into the Christmas spirit when it was 80 degrees, sunny and blue. Despite the Boston beer and winter graphics.
Why? Because I’m from New England and Doug is from New Jersey. And as if it wasn’t cold enough in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Great State of New Jersey, we both left home to attend Syracuse University in Upstate NY. Now that’s dedication to an art education.
I watched the cars pour into the Goodwill donation store right next to the Junction and I said to Doug “People always donate this time of year in order to make room for new Christmas things.” And then we got to talking about Christmas traditions.
Doug started thinking out loud that Christmas traditions are really based on how you spent your childhood, because Christmas is about kids. He said that the reason we didn’t feel so much like it was Christmas was because our childhood traditions involved cold weather, snow pants, sleds, making snow angels, skiing, icicles and cold weather leading up to Christmas from Thanksgiving, sometimes even from September. To this day, when it’s hot and sunny outside, it just doesn’t feel like winter to us.No matter how much Boston lager we consume.
Our children are 14 and 15 and they were born here, they have seen snow less than a handful of times in their lives. Their Christmas has always been tropical. In an attempt to share our memories of winter with them, we have gone to some great lengths. We have taken them to sleep in an Ice Hotel in Québec, we have gone ice skating at RDV, we have driven up to NJ and MA in the dead of winter to celebrate Christmas with their cousins, and we have taken them to ICE at Gaylord Palms Hotel here in Orlando.
Chinese Artists Bring Sculpted ICE to Florida
ICE, now that’s cold. So cold, and so foreign to Floridians that part of your admission includes renting the parka, no kidding. The folks at ICE know that we have no need for a coat like that here, so they hand them out on your way in to the 8 degree exhibition.
As artists, my husband and I can truly appreciate all the hard work and hand carving that goes into such an exhibition of sculpture. This year was themed Frosty the Snowman, a show that we huddled around the TV to watch as kids. When there was no cable, no DVDs, no Netflix and no VCR, you had to catch it when it was actually on TV with commercial interruption.
What? I don’t get it. My kids are bewildered by this concept. Frosty first aired on December 7th, 1969 on CBS.
My son, who says he’d love to move somewhere with seasons someday, asked me if it was this cold in Canada. That made me smile. We had watched Fargo the night before. More snow experiences for them.
As parents we have always wanted to share our childhood experiences with our kids. Since our kids are Floridians, it’s been a total different experience for them than it was for us growing up in the Northeast. Besides the weather, we have also remembered the things our parents did with us when we were kids.
“Remember the year that we made the airplanes out of a roll of Smarites,two life savers and a stick of gum for the Christmas tree?” I asked my husband, and a smile pursed his lips. “Remember the countdown to Christmas paper chain we did every year, the kids couldn’t wait to remove a link every day.” The things that were such a part of our childhood we wanted to share with them.
Even if it was hot as Hades.
The ICE exhibit was a great way for us to have fun as a family and has become part of our up north down south tradition. We spend a half hour remembering why we left Upstate NY in such a hurry after graduation, and our southern kids got to re-evaluate their desire to live in a cooler climate. My son asked me if he could lay on the asphalt in the parking lot upon exiting the exhibit. For some reason he didn’t bring mittens either… maybe he doesn’t have any that fit.
As with any good Florida attraction, ICE dumps you out into the gift shop (not the parking lot, sorry Connor) at the end. We all enjoyed hot chocolate, which brought some feeling back into our fingers, as we shopped shopped shopped the Christmas ornaments and Frosty T-shirts. Snow globes and sleigh bells made us think it was beginning to look a lot more like Christmas.
The exhibit this year offered much more color than in years past, which was fun and cheerful. I have to say though, my favorite is still the clear ice, the traditional subject matter. Call me an old fashioned New England girl, but that kind of stuff reminds me of the igloos we made in the banks from the snow plow at the end of our driveway and the days we spent ice fishing and skating on the frozen lake that was so thick that you could drive your car across it.
Click any image to enlarge, they are GREAT. All photos courtesy of Douglas Nelson Photography
(Except photo of him with the camera, that was shot by me with my EXTRA fancy iPhone.
And the one below, which was shot by a stranger with Doug’s even MORE fancy iPhone)