It’s Christmas Eve! Merry Christmas Everyone.
On this day a few years ago, I was jumping on a plane and heading to Orlando. Then a couple of days later, I hopped on another plane and headed Up North to the Yukon for the rest of the holidays. It was a great whirlwind trip, but it was the strangest Christmas I’d ever had.
I’d never been away for Christmas before. My parents were never big travellers so they never wanted to go anywhere for the holidays. As a kid my mom used to travel to Toronto (from Ottawa-about a 5 hour drive) on Christmas morning with her parents and she hated it. So she vowed to never travel at Christmas when she had her own family. Needless to say, we always stuck close to home for the holidays and everyone pretty much came to visit us.
So a few years ago I made up for my lack of Christmas travel by planning not just one trip but two for the holidays (yep, I am indeed slightly crazy). And surprisingly, it was only a few degrees colder in Canada’s great White North than it was down South in Florida at Christmas that year. Crazy but true. Well, the Yukon did have snow and there wasn’t any of the white stuff in Florida, but it was cold enough in Orlando that I almost expected it.
Just shortly before Christmas that year my dad was feeling really depressed as his younger brother had recently passed away AND he’d just closed his business after 40+ years. Needless to say, it was a stressful time and my mom and I decided a change of scenery was a good idea. Particularly since my Uncle used to come over and spend Christmas with us, so that would have made it even harder for my dad.
So on Christmas Eve morning we packed our bags and hopped on a plane and headed to Orlando. When we arrived it was beautiful and warm, about 25 degrees. (It was just a tease though, the balmy weather didn’t last).
After escaping a snowstorm only a few hours ago, the warm sun (and the lack of snow) was such a treat. However, we did all agree that it didn’t feel like Christmas Eve at all here in Florida. It felt more like July than December.
Some of us enjoyed the warm weather more than others. Not mentioning any names….AL! Oops…
But the nice warm weather didn’t last. When we woke up the next morning (Christmas Day) the temperature had plummeted drastically. It went from Summer to Fall overnight. I guess even Florida was hoping for a White Christmas..and they almost got it.
I literally froze my buns off walking around Universal Studios that afternoon. Thankfully we’d packed jeans, long-sleeve shirts and jackets because we were coming from snowy Ottawa after all. I was very happy that I wore my gloves to the airport as well.
There is something very wrong with wearing gloves in Florida, even in December. All of the shops in the World of Harry Potter area had completely sold out of their famous Harry scarves. Tourists weren’t buying them as gifts to bring back home–nope, they were so cold that they were putting them on as soon as they left the stores. Many locals told us they hadn’t seen a December this cold ( 8-10 degrees) in 3+ decades.
I especially felt bad for my parents as this was their first trip down South (during the winter, anyway) and they were really looking forward to the warm weather. I too hoped to soak in as much sun as I could since I was heading up North in a couple of days (where I thought it was going to be -200.)
Turns out I was wrong about that too. The Yukon was experiencing an unusual mild spell and when I got there (after leaving Orlando) it was about 1 C (about 30F) which was a very pleasant surprise. Sure I was wearing gloves in the Yukon too but I didn’t mind as I fully expected to be wearing them there.
Overall, my parents and my friend Al (adopted brother) and I had a great trip to Orlando despite the chilly weather. We just found it really weird to be there at Christmas. In fact, we all felt a bit like we missed Christmas that year, it was just like a trip any other time of the year.
So I won’t rush to ever go back to Florida for the holidays, but glad we did finally go somewhere as a family for Christmas. (Sadly, my dad passed away about 2 years after this trip so I’m so grateful we got this one Christmas Getaway as a family while my dad was still alive. We almost didn’t go, so I’m happy we didn’t put it off another year.)
After we got back to Ottawa, my friend Al and I almost immediately hopped on another plane to head up north to the Yukon for the rest of the holidays. I think I spent more time in the air than Santa that Christmas. Sure I had less stopovers than Santa did but not by many. At least he got fresh chocolate chip cookies on all his stops. We were lucky if our flights made it on time (they didn’t…surprise surprise!).
My friend Al is actually from Whitehorse, but he usually just goes back to visit in the summer. So this was going to be his first Christmas home in many years. I’ve been there with him in the summer before (hello, Midnight Sun!) but this was my first winter trip up there. The 4 hours of daylight scared me a little, but I figured I’d manage as it was just a few days. Plus I really liked the idea of spending New Years somewhere new and exciting.