Friday, December 15th
This year we kept one family holiday tradition alive.
We saw my sister perform in The Nutcracker ballet on Friday and it was just as beautiful as I remembered. Even though I have seen the Nutcracker maybe a bazillion times since I was kid, I still find the story, music, and dancing so magical. It is definitely a holiday season favorite!
This Nutcracker performance was also bittersweet as it was my sister’s last performance in Gainesville. She is leaving UF to attend the University of Tampa for nursing next semester. My parents and I drove up to Gainesville to support her for her final performance as a UF student.
Before the show, my parents and I took the chance to wander the nature trails by a lake on University grounds. Gainesville is actually very beautiful in the winter. The air was chilly and the lake was incredibly calm.
We enjoyed the breathtaking views as I found myself falling in love with Florida all over again. Although I love the ocean, the swamp is surprisingly beautiful in all its wild vegetation. Though beware of alligators!
I seized the opportunity to take pictures with my parents. I won’t be seeing them very much after the new year. I think we all appreciated the time together on this spur of the moment day trip.
The best part about winter in Florida is that it actually starts looking like fall! The trees turn a golden brown and the air becomes just crisp enough for a warm sweater. It is a beautiful time for nature walks and spending time outdoors without sweating!
The scenery also reminded me of my beloved Maine. Sometimes it is strange thinking back to my college days when life was so different. So many things have changed. It is exciting but also a little sad.
After our walk we found our way to the largest bat colony in the Southeastern United States! We saw a couple people sitting and waiting on benches and realized they were waiting for the bats to come out! Of course, we had to stay and wait too. It was almost dusk anyway.
Over the next hour we waited and listened to the increasingly loud high-pitched noises from inside the bat barns. Then out flew the bats! It was so dark that we could only see small dark forms swooping in front of us and over our heads. It was scary! I managed to snap a picture of one of the little guys. Thank god they didn’t hit us in the face! So many times they were merely inches away from us.
After that bizarre experience, it was time for The Nutcracker. See, we are best friends. Just like last year.
The ballet was beautiful and so many moments left me in happy tears. Morgan did a great job as an adult party person, snowflake, Chinese person, and flower. I thought it was awesome that she was in the Chinese dance. My family loves China!
We are so proud of our little dancer! No matter how many times I see the Nutcracker, I am happy if I can watch my sister doing something that she loves. Also, I am definitely in the holiday spirit. It’s time to drink hot toddies, wrap presents, and hug Christmas trees.