…is the thing to say on a bright Floridian Christmas day! That’s the Gulf-coast greeting that we send to you from the land where palm trees sway!” Okay, so I took a little poetic license with that Bing Crosby tune, but it fits, I tell ya, it fits!

It still boggles my mind, even after living here for three years, that it’s December and I’ve got my whole house open to the 70 degree temps and fresh sunshine. There really are palm trees swaying in my front and back yards – incredible! This Texas-girl-turned-Floridian-via-Iowa, has known her share of ice-laden Christmases and Christmases adrift in the snow, but this type of Christmas is a little different. You sort of have to manufacture a Christmas look; hence the palms wrapped in lights and the multitude of inflatable holiday yard “art”. 
At first, it kind of bothered me. While I LOVE the weather during the winter here (as I don’t really relish being cold), I did miss the Christmasy feel of a “real” winter and the beautiful landscape it presented for the holidays. However, it came to me during a particularly wistful day that, really, the Christmas feeling doesn’t have anything to do with the weather. At least it shouldn’t. It’s so much more a condition of the heart.
My friend, Pat, penned a phrase in a recent post that has been resonating with me ever since. 
“The nativity cannot be separated from the crucifixion.”

Truly, the one happened to usher in the other, a glorious opening paragraph to the greatest life story ever told…a story whose ending wasn’t an ending at all, but an extraordinary, miraculous beginning for the rest of all mankind. 
Whether snow flies or palm trees sway, the Christmas feeling starts with a return to Bethlehem and a journey following the footsteps of a babe-turned-man on His way to Calvary. It’s an inward pilgrimage that depends not in the least on the forecast. 
So, today, as the mild breeze gives the palm trees and me a gentle caress, I turn inward to find myself on my knees before a manger on a cold desert night, the Christmas feeling warming my heart.