As weird as it may sound, both of our girls are named for my mom's older sister, Anna. Everyone loved Aunt Anna; you'd never want to meet a sweeter or more generous person.
The year before she died, Tom and I took the kids to Jacksonville, Florida to spend Thanksgiving with "Granna", who was living in an upscale retirement community. Here's the thing, if you don't have family to spend the holidays with, it doesn't matter if the community is upscale or not. We were so thankful to have time off from work and school, and the resources to spend one of her last holidays with Aunt Anna.
Since we live in the Midwest, where beaches are man-made, I made sure to schedule in one day of our trip for the beach. Maybe you can't tell it, but we had been into the warm waves up to our knees. Few things are as relaxing to me as wading. We luxuriated in shirt sleeves and sandy, wet feet at the end of November, especially knowing we were returning to cold, icy rain.
On Thanksgiving Day, we had checked out location and availability of the nearest Cracker Barrel. What we didn't check out was just how long it took Granna to get ready, out the door and into the mini-van. The term slow motion comes to mind (one I'm sure our children think of too often with us now). In all fairness, part of the reason it took so long to pull out of the driveway was because Granna knew seemingly everyone and everyone knew her in the complex. Well, it would be rude not to speak, wouldn't it?
I can't tell you anything we ate for our Thanksgiving banquet, not one. But we had such a lovely time, and I don't think I'd ever seen Aunt Anna look happier. Some kind server or table neighbor took a snapshot of all of us at the restaurant. I had it enlarged, framed and sent it to Aunt Anna for Christmas. It was the last Christmas gift I got to send to this sweet, sweet woman.
I love the beach, and I love the holidays with all their respective sounds and scents and sights. What I've finally figured out is what I love about both, is being with my family. The senses only add a background in the pictures in my heart, making everything a little sweeter. I pray your senses are heightened and your heart full throughout the seasons.