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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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Palms Instead of Evergreens

Palms Instead of Evergreens

Ours is a blended family which, especially during the holidays, often means you have three children and only two drumsticks. Sometimes it means that your old family traditions fade away to make way for new ones. And, there are times when you wonder if your family is blended or strained. But there are also times when everything comes together, and you know this is how your family was supposed to be.

For us, those times were most evident at Christmastime. I remember our first Christmas together as a family. We put on Christmas music and got out the two sets of ornaments that used to dec-orate our individual trees. We were blending them like we did our family. My daughter was older and taller, so she worked on the top of the tree while her new brothers filled in the bottom. They worked together and admired each other’s handmade ornaments. They bantered back and forth about what they were going to get for Christmas, and the day turned out to be a wonderful memory.

We spent more than 20 years in that house celebrating not only Christmas but birthdays, proms, football victories, graduations, and engagements. The children turned into young adults, and suddenly, they were raising families of their own, and we were ready to retire to a warmer climate.

That warmer climate turned out to be Leland, North Carolina. I remember my first Christmas in Leland. I flew in from Cleveland, Ohio, the week before the holiday. The weather there was snowy and cold, so I was wearing heavy clothes and boots. I was marching down the gate to meet my husband when I noticed that everyone around me was dressed in casual, lightweight clothes.

I passed people sitting in white rocking chairs; some reading, some just rocking. White rocking chairs in an airport? The only place to sit in the Cleveland airport was near the gates in well worn, stiff chairs that were all attached to each other. No white Christmas here, I thought, just white rocking chairs.

Would I ever get used to seeing decorated palm trees instead of ever-greens? I had to remind myself that this was our dream? a warmer climate for retirement. But, was it the right dream? Our grandchildren were all in Cleveland, as well as our extended families. Our history was in Cleveland. My husband and I were still of the generation that stayed in the place where we grew up, unlike some of our children who scattered to various states when they finished college.

Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe we should stay in Cleveland. Maybe we were too old to make a major move like this. And all of a sudden, I wanted to go home.

My husband moved to Le-land first to get our new home set up. I was still working, and our house was still on the market, so I wouldn’t be moving down until January. It was hard being in Cleveland without him. I missed the conversations that we had over dinner. I missed being together. This was not going to be a special Christmas- – it was a short visit with a holiday in the middle of it before I went back home.

And then I saw him. There was my husband, standing in a common area waiting for me, wearing a Santa hat. It was so good to see him again. We went to our new home and decorated a small tree on our lanai, hanging ornaments filled with memories that made our Christmas trees in Cleveland special for years. We did last- minute Christmas shopping, and I laughed at the Santas outside of stores ringing bells and wearing shorts.

That was almost ten years ago. We now have grandchildren in three states, but Leland is home now. I don’t laugh at decorated palm trees or Santas in shorts anymore. Leland is home be-cause the person I love is here. Every Christmas is special because we are together.

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About the Contributor
Jan Morgan-Swegle
Jan Morgan-Swegle is the Editor of Cape Fear Voices.  She has been writing for CFV for almost 3 years.  She is originally from the Cleveland area and moved down to Leland 12 years ago.  She and her husband, Tony, and their dog, Dixie, enjoy sitting on the lanai listening to music and sharing wine (Dixie likes white wine but only gets two finger tips full!!)  They have 3 children and 9 grandchildren living in Cleveland, Ohio,  Charlotte, North Carolina and Lakeland, Florida.

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