Spending Christmas With Fun in the Sun !
by Rachelle Siegrist
Two weeks ago, we left the cold, snow-spitting gray skies of the Smokies, and headed south! Before long I could see tiny Sable Palms scattered about expansive, lush green pastures, dotted with cows the size of tic-tacs from my plane window, and my excitement mounted! The experience of walking onto the tarmac, and feeling the enveloping warmth of the sun on my face and skin was almost more than I could stand! Within minutes we were bounding down the road in my Dad’s truck along with my parents, niece and nephew!
We drove to my sister Hayley’s house, where we were met by the family, including the newest addition, my adorable niece Raelynn! Of course I had to hold her right away and eventually shared the pleasure with the others. After supper at Pizza Hut with everyone, we drove back to Okeechobee while singing Christmas Carols, filling in the forgotten lines with made up ones, which proved most entertaining at times!
The next couple of days were spent riding the 4-wheeler for miles and miles, around what would later be named the “redneck rollercoaster”. A trail leading through the woods, with lots of dips, jumps and bumps, becomes awesome when there’s me and at times 3 kids hanging on for dear life, as we leave the ground and everyone squeals with sheer delight and “Yee-Haws” fill the air! Much to my poor mom’s distress, I’m doing my best to cultivate more adrenalin junkies in our family . . . Ha Ha!
Many relaxing hours were spent playing in and around the pond, which included pulling more chunks of the grass out with the 4-wheeler. Wes fished with the kids, which they all enjoyed, and lots of boat rides were taken. Sometimes we would paddle out to the middle and lay on our backs with feet dangling in the water, while watching the clouds shape shift and slowly pass overhead. One afternoon, we went to Lake Okeechobee and walked on the pier while watching alligators and feeding the seagulls flying overhead, and laughed when poor Mom and Wes were christened by them!
Friday before Christmas was spent in my favorite Florida State Park, Highlands Hammock! It was a perfect day weather-wise, and I couldn’t have been happier being there with my family enjoying the abundant beauty and of course seeing abundant birds and alligators! We enjoyed riding bikes around the loop road, stopping occasionally to walk on a few of the boardwalk trails.
Walking along the boardwalk trails and resident gator, Fern, on the Fern Garden Trail
Wes and I found ourselves alone with about two dozen various birds at one point, and quietly sat on the boardwalk while watching the Great Egrets, White Ibis and Wood Storks gracefully and slowly walk through the black water. Occasionally one caught a crawfish, which resulted in disputes, which were resolved by the participants jumping into the air, wings outstretched, until it was decided who was the lucky winner! This graceful show was mesmerizing to say the least, accompanied only by sounds of a gentle breeze, with occasional “honks” mixed in!
What a beautiful and peaceful sight!
That evening we went to see the Christmas lights in downtown Sebring, which was as beautiful and magical as I remembered from years ago! The kids enjoyed playing a round of miniature golf, and laughed at the Carol-singing puppet heads which we all watched afterwards.
Christmas Eve day started with my brother Marshall, Tyler and me riding a favorite mountain bike trail, Grassy Island! While blissfully riding along the twists and turns leading throughout the gorgeous lush Hammock, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend part of the day! That evening my brother’s family came over for supper and a family tradition of watching Home Alone.
Christmas morning was spent with my parents, Wes and I finishing up the girls’ Barbie houses which they were to receive later that evening. My sister Hayley’s family arrived later that day in time to enjoy several trips on the redneck rollercoaster and some fun on the water! The next couple of days were passed with 4-wheeler and boat rides, playing barbies, and of course coloring and making miniature art for the Barbie house! It was a fun week, filled with lots of laughter and fun in the sun, while making many wonderful memories as a family!
Even Uncle Wes has to play Barbies! Creating chalk art with Aunt NoNo and invading Granny’s Christmas village with the army men . . . hee hee!
Now it’s back to work time, as we start off the new year by returning to our easels.
Happy New Year!
Until next time . . .