Wednesday, December 12, 2018

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

I stumbled across this photo shoot one morning as I was walking the beach (in Naples, Florida last month). From far away, all I could see was a Christmas tree growing out of the sand.

Eeks, Christmas already?  But it's summer! Hot, hot, hot. Bathing suit weather. Flip-flops and sunscreen. I had to remember that it was winter back home. And winter here in Florida - just different climates.

As I got closer I realized it was a photo shoot. Not a school play or party or something. I really didn't have a clue when I first spotted that tree so close to the water's edge.
Now it was clear that this family was making a personalized greeting card.  How sweet. Christmas on the beach.
I wasn't sure how they felt about me taking a pic so I waited a bit to see if anybody looked my way.
Nobody paid me any heed. The photographer was busy calling out instructions to the little boy and the mother was watching closely while jostling a toddler on her hip.

Fifth Avenue in downtown Naples. Everything was beautifully decorated. Here's Frosty waiting for snow (ha ha, that won't happen)

Santa must be hot in that outfit! It was about 85F or 29C that evening

Palm trees aglow all up and down the streets. They sure look strange to my eyes.  But oh so nice!


Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Visit to the Cemetery

It was mid-October and we were on our way to the Halloween Store.  Nine-year-old Grandson was looking for a specific costume and Mom said it was OK for us to buy it. 

We were greeted by a green monster towering over the store entrance. Spider webs coated the walls, sinister clowns popped out from dark corners, and it seemed that every aisle held rows of face paint, glitter and freaky masks, just in case you hadn't noticed them earlier. 

There were rather ghoulish hands dripping fake blood, horrible witch masks covered in warts and frightening looking mummies, bandages coming undone. I'm glad the grands are old enough to know it's all for show; most of it was rather distasteful to my eyes.

We did not find the longed for costume (don't ask me which one, it's from a TV show or something). Eleven-going-on-twelve-year-old Granddaughter told me she would make her own costume and it was to be a surprise! No hints!

On our way home, Granddaughter asked if we could visit the cemetery, where her great-grandparents were buried.  As it was a mild and pleasant day and I was in no hurry to get the children back home, I agreed. Besides, they'd been asking for ages and it never seemed to be the right time, or it was too cold, rainy, snowy, whatever...

I parked the car close to the spot and we walked among the headstones towards my parents grave. The children were entranced. I don't think they'd ever been in a cemetery before. It was all new to them and different than whatever they'd seen on TV.  This was real.

Nathan commented on the abundance of flowers embellishing certain graves and how others looked so barren. Jasmine was interested in reading the info on the stones. 
"Oh my goodness, this person died way way before my Mom was born!  Maybe even you, Grandma and you're old!"  I had to laugh. 

I let them explore and eventually we came to my parents grave. They had been cremated and their ashes buried together (way back in 1998). 

"Where are the flowers?" Nathan looked at me curiously. 
"Um, well, I haven't been here in quite a long time."  Actually it had been years. 
"Can I take some from this grave (he pointed to one nearby) and give it to Great Grandma and Grandpa?"  

Eeks! I was horrified, but calmly replied "No, that's not very nice. We don't do that."
"But they have lots and lots of flowers!" Couldn't argue with a child's logic, but it just didn't seem right.
"Tell you what, we'll look in the woods over there and pick one for your great grandparents."
So off we went in search of a wildflower or two. 

We happened to pass some metal plaques lying flat in the ground. Some were so old the writing had worn off; others marked the final resting place of soldiers, who had fought overseas.
"Oh, can I step on those?"
"NO!  Sorry Nate, but that's not a respectable thing to do."
"Well, why not? They're dead."  Hmmm. How on earth to explain to a little boy.
"Let's just find some flowers."

Anxious to get back on track, I hurried them along. We found some pretty blue flowers growing amongst the dead leaves and milkweed pods and were on our way back when little Nate noticed that some people had made arrangements of stones on their loved ones graves. 
"Can we take some of these stones for Great Grandpa and Grandma?"

"No, we can't do that!  It's almost like stealing." Well, it wasn't really, but I couldn't think of anything else to say and I'd grown tired of the "it's not nice" refrain.
He nodded his head, but I could see he wasn't completely convinced.

"I'm sure we can find a stone or two and perhaps next time we come out here we'll bring a candle and whatever you think Great Grandpa and Grandma would like."
"A soccer ball? I think Great Grandpa might want to play soccer. And Great Grandma might want a garden."
"Oh, I think the flowers will cover the garden part, but very kind of you, Nathan."

Finally we were back at the grave. Jasmine arranged the wildflowers solemnly on the headstone. Nathan pulled out the smooth rock he had found in the dirt and carefully wiped it clean on the adjacent headstone before I could stop him.
He then placed it respectfully on his Great Grandparents grave. 
I didn't say a word - at this point I'd given up.

But I'll bet my parents, being down-to-earth and practical in their lifetime, must have been rolling over with laughter just about now.