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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Amelia Island Artists Workshop
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell

My Christmas Story to You

Sunday morning before the sun rose into the sky I was motoring toward Orlando for a trip to Whoville,
where I hoped to find "The Grinch" who I was certain had stolen my Christmas Wreath from the front
door of my gallery in an effort to steal my Christmas Spirit.

The fog had lifted as I arrived at my eldest son's home and our group began to assemble around
the breakfast table, all excited about the rides and fun to be had at Universal Studio (home of Whoville),
where I suspected I would be able to recover my Christmas wreath.

As always the park is groomed to perfection, but I saw little evidence of Christmas as I looked
around.  Perhaps living so close to the Grinch he had also stolen their Christmas decorations.

We headed across the park, my head all a'spin in anticipation of what lay ahead.

On the way we encountered all kinds of wild rides, rides which would literally put your head in a spin,
and where Eric realized for the first time he may have reached the age where having the top of your
head feel as if it is coming off is no longer fun.  We'll see next year if his memory has faded or not.

As the pathways lead us around the park, we spotted the new Harry Potter Castle, part of the
open "Harry Potter World of Wizardry" on which has Eric has been workingThe castle is high
above everything else, but I knew that the Wizard had yet to arrive so I would get no help in my quest
from there.

Crossing the bridge leading over the water to Whoville I looked down and found some very interesting
turtles which looks to be a species of Soft Shell or a Chicken Turtle; I'm not sure which.  Soft Shells
are being threatened by over-fishing and trapping right now in the Florida rivers. 
They just ignored me as if my quest was of little importance in there scope of things.

Finally I see a sign and an arrow pointing "That Way" to find the Grinch and there in bold letters
it actually stated that the Grinch had stolen Christmas.  I surmised I was on the right track to
suspect this mean ol' Grinch of having stolen my wreath.

The citizens of Whoville, whom I must say were some pretty quirky looking characters, were very
sympathetic, but no one had personally seen a wreath matching my description.  I did get information that I
was heading in the right direction and if I followed the street to the Village of Whoville, I should be
able to find the Grinch.

Whoville was decorated to the nines with every color and shape of Christmas Wreath and it didn't
look like any of their wreaths were missing.

Although the people in the village brought out several wreaths for me to check, none was mine.
But I also found that the Grinch had reformed his old thieving ways and was now a new person, full
of the real Christmas Spirit.  

At first I was skeptical that a person such as he could change, but the town's people assured me that the
is that "The Grinch's" heart had been too small and pinched, and by realizing that by stealing the decorations, he did not steal the Christmas Spirit which lived in the hearts of the people.  That caused his own heart to grow three sizes, solving the problem with his "grinchiness".

The children were so excited to see that the Grinch was now a good person, a straight arrow kind
of guy, that they also assured me that my wreath would not be found in Whoville.

I also realized that what was most important was that I enjoy the day with my family and celebrate
my new found freedom.  Freedom from thinking my Christmas Spirit had been stolen by the taking of a silly old 
wreath; and that Christmas was, after all, living in my heart.  It was me who could make happiness out
of little, and that the greatest gift to give is the gift of service to others who may be having a difficult
time.  It is me who determines that my Christmas Spirit will not rely on external things like decorations
and presents but instead on family, love, and an understanding of what the season really represents.

I joined in as everyone enjoyed Universal's highly decorated New York City to celebrate the season
with the balloons which had recently traveled down from the real New York City Macy's Parade just so
we could enjoy them in the warm Florida sunshine.

Confetti showered us as the characters put on a good show.

The Mother Goose float is always one of my favorites.

Even Frosty the Snowman, through the magic of Christmas, managed to keep his frost in the warm air.

And finally the old man himself, St. Nickolas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, or
whatever you want to call this symbol of giving, made his appearance on a beautiful
float pulled by gorgeous reindeer.

My son, Eric and beautiful Daughter-in-law, pose for our annual photograph in front of the
Christmas Tree.  Another holiday tradition as my feet cry for time to sit down.

The whole gang posed for me in front of Grover (I made Grover stuffed animals for my kids
and their cousins long before they were on the commercial market), one of our favorite Macy's
Parade balloons, and Sesame Street characters, signaling an exhausted end to a very special day.
It has been a treat for my sons Eric and David whose childhood hero was Jim Henson
and all the characters he created, to in real life, get to work with the Muppets on
several jobs as well as to also get to know his daughter, Heather, personally.