We spent Christmas week in Jacksonville this year, a lovely reprieve from the winter back home. When we arrived, it was in the eighties; the girls got to play outside and run through the hose. They were ecstatic. They shared a room at Andrew’s parents’ house, which we weren’t sure was a great idea, but it worked out fine—once again showing us that we’re slowly approaching a time when we’ll once again be able to travel with some degree of sanity.
The weather cooled but remained nice for most of the week, and we kept the girls outside as much as possible—going to playgrounds, looking for cats, playing with toys on the deck. The day after Christmas, Andrew, Lucia, Greta, and I even went out to Atlantic Beach. It was pretty cold that day, but the girls still took off their socks and shoes and ran in the surf. Greta made designs with shells in the sand. Lucia built an elaborate structure from sticks she found in the dunes. Andrew and I were freezing, but the girls were in no hurry to leave. We finally did get them back into the car, and then headed out to meet the rest of the family for lunch. Greta fell asleep as soon as she was buckled into her carseat and slept on Andrew’s shoulder for nearly the entire meal.
The day before we left, we and Andrew’s mom took the girls to Jacksonville’s science museum. There was a huge train display, which the girls loved—the little train cars were carrying tiny presents, snowmen, candy canes, and Santa. In the small aquarium area, Greta was captivated by a tank of swimming turtles—we stayed there, watching the turtles, long after Andrew and Lucia headed on to other things. When a few older children came over to the turtle tank, Greta pointed out the turtles proprietarily, like a little docent.
And, of course, in the middle of the week was Christmas itself. Lucia was so excited for Santa to come, and both she and Greta loved opening their gifts and exploring their stockings. Their favorite gift was—as I’d hoped—the treasure chest I made each of them: antique chests, gold coins, various jewels, and an assortment of amulets. They immediately loved small Sofia and Amber dolls (from Sofia the First), a selection of tiny stuffed animals, and Tinkerbell coloring books. They were also thrilled at new My First Little House books from Aunt Katherine and fish purses from Andrew’s parents. It took them days to really discover everything.
With Cousin Thomas in Thomas's Christmas wagon:
With "Bobby and Nina":