Two and a half weeks ago, the three hour drive north then half hour west seemed like a little bit of a haul. Like a long way to go by myself, but not really. It’s just been a while since I last took such a road trip by my lonesome. So I was a bit nervous not knowing what I would find the final stretch to be like. A two-lane road running east and west in the middle of nowhere – this I knew, and nothing more.

I suspected the scenery would be something to talk about, and it was. And I was wrong about the road being in the middle of nowhere, for here it runs through the middle of the St. John’s River.


Then right through a fish camp.


Arriving at the small airport just north of the Orlando International reminded me of middle-school pickup back in the day. Almost immediately, traffic came to a complete stop, where, for about ten minutes, I waited.


Traffic started moving slowly and I inched my way closer and closer to the terminal. Then Amanda called, she had retrieved her luggage and was on the curb waiting. It was just like middle-school pickup.

The next day, back in our neck of the woods, I spotted a new sign I thought might interest someone:


wp-1483302734740.jpegOne day, Amanda and I went downtown and picked up Dave for lunch. I had to go in and see the tree he had been telling me about, and of course, get a picture.

Our tree at home is a bit less traditional. Dave had an idea and asked for “cart-blanch” to do the decorating. I conceded.

I don’t know if the idea was completely his or where it came from and I’m not going to ask. It doesn’t matter. Want a clue? The song for our theme would be, “I’m dreaming of a black-light Christmas.”

The best part though is the thought that went into the colors. Dave picked  pink and purple and green – my favorite colors.

So are you ready? Unfortunately, this is the best picture I have of it. I am sure it looks cool, but the photo really does not do it justice. Next year. We have improvements to make on it next year. And I want a picture with all four of us in front of it, so Amanda you will have to come down again at Christmastime next year. So we’ll call this one the pilot.

Presenting the Raffey Family Christmas Tree of 2016:
The “pilot” Blacklight Christmas

For Christmas, we went to Ft. Myers, where, Dave and John carried on Gus’ tradition of hosting a Prime Rib dinner on Christmas Eve, followed by opening presents. Fourteen people got their fill and there were leftovers. Costco came through once again.

Dave said Gus’ traditional grace, to which Jeff and I traditionally tacked-on, “Rub-a-dub dub, let’s eat this grub!”

wp-1483303257394.jpegThen we opened presents. Here, Dave is reading the tag – To David From Santa. At some point, he looked at me, confused. “You sure this is for me?” “Yes, finish reading the tag,” I told him. Because you will always be David first here, he read. And our gift tags confirmed this.

wp-1483317210859.jpegSanta got him cookies – Butter Pecan Meltaways – to be exact. In a round tin with the cookie maker’s name written across the top it and, “a bite above the rest,” I had to try one. The name of “David’s” was a plus.

wp-1483303310748.jpegMan, am I glad that Dave does not enjoy them nearly as much as I do. We would have to fight over them. But as luck would have it, or his big, kind heart, he allowed me to eat almost the entire tin of cookies.

On Christmas Day, we did the traditional get-together at Dave’s cousin’s house. After lunch we played games and then sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.


Visit my site on Shutterfly to see more pictures.

The following day we came home and planned out Amanda’s last few days here.

To be continued…

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