When I was 10, my dad’s dream of owning a place in the country came true when we moved to Christmas, FL. Yes, the name of the town is really Christmas, and it is located about 20 miles east of Orlando. It rarely snows, but festive nonetheless with Santa Claus and a decorated tree that remains year round. This time of year is bustling with activity as people come from miles around to the post office to have their holiday cards postmarked “Christmas, FL.”The community was originally called Fort Christmas, named after the fort built around Christmas time in 1837 during the Seminole Indian War. A replica stands on a 25-acre park, a fun place to visit and picnic with the family.
I didn’t think it was fun and festive when we first moved there, however. I had to trade in my “city clothes” for jeans (or face endless ridicule from the local kids), and the hour + bus ride down long, bumpy dirt roads to the nearest school had me longing for civilization. As an adolescent, there were not many opportunities for a social life – just the Tuesday night gathering of the Ft. Christmas Cloggers. We didn’t have cable tv, but thank goodness for the telephone! And you know how teenage girls love to talk! So, that’s what I did for hours at a time everyday. No call waiting to disturb my conversation, but sometimes my uncle resorted to “operator interrupt” service just to talk to my dad. I had a phone to my ear so often, I was teased as working for “Ma Bell”, which I guess turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy to a certain extent.
As an adult, I now appreciate the peace and quiet that living in the country brings. My parents still live there and when I visit, I enjoy spending the evening sitting on the front porch swing listening to the whippoorwills. Christmas, FL is a place where neighbors take care of one another and the spirit of the season can be felt all year long.