Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

By Edith McClintock

When I was young, my parents preferred breaking traditions to following them. But Christmas, luckily, they left to my Midwestern Irish grandmas. One Catholic and one Protestant. And each year we rotated between them, one year in Florida, the next in Missouri. New and old. Hot and cold.

My Missouri grandmother always made my favorite pecan puff cookies and allowed us to open one present on Christmas Eve. We’d spend hours circling the tree, shaking and measuring, contemplating the hidden secrets of each box. Choosing right meant a night of gloating over siblings and cousins. Choosing wrong, despair and jealousy—for seven long hours until we could open the rest.

My Florida grandmother always made her jello-marshmallow Christmas salad—a tradition ripe for return! Either my aunt or grandfather dressed as Santa Claus, in a plastic red suit that fooled no one. After dinner, we’d ride out in her golf cart searching for lost golf balls, or lounge poolside reading Archie comics.

In high school and college, my sister and I began looking for our own holiday traditions, trying on various religions and foods and decorations. My sister introduced us to midnight mass, still one of my favorites. And with friends I celebrated Hanukkah and the Cuban Nochebuena, a Christmas Eve dinner with a roasted pig as the centerpiece. While living in Suriname in my twenties, a good friend informed me December is for family and relaxing, not work. A splendid idea I decided, adopting it immediately, although life rarely allows as long as I'd like.

But now that I’m living in the Pacific Northwest, my favorite Christmas tradition is to visit family and friends in Miami, and, as anywhere, curl in front of a Christmas tree with a good book and a fat cat. So as an ode to Christmas in Miami, I present a few of my favorite things (along with abject apologies to the original):

Café con leche and laze about days
Bright neon buildings and warm ocean waves
Pythons and ‘gators twisted in rings
These are a few of my favorite things

Long South Beach nights and salsa till three
Chickens in backyards but no hipsters to see
Sailboats that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Two separate Christmases for both mom and for dad
A tree all in purple makes my mom twice as glad
My cute little nephew dressed in nothing
These are a few of my favorite things

Poolside at Audrey’s with all of the girls
The magic of sunset and islands scattered like pearls
Cool moonlit nights and hammocks gently aswing
These are a few of my favorite things

When the fog looms
When the rain falls
When the nights come too soon
I simply remember Miami is home
And soon I'll be quite tanned and new

Awful, I know, but I'm still following the rule that December is not for work.

For more, visit my author website and/or personal blog, A Wandering Tale. Even better, order a copy of Monkey Love & Murder on AmazonBarnes & Noble, or the Book Depository (free shipping nearly anywhere in the world).


  1. Whenever I hear the phrase, my favorite things," that song starts playing in my head. I like your version - especially the sailboats with the moon on their wings. Lovely!

  2. One of my favorite songs -- love it! And a marvelous tribute to your hometown. "Bright neon buildings and warm ocean waves" is what I think of when I remember Miami.

    Interesting to learn about what inspired your holiday traditions as well. Lovely post, Edith. Merry Christmas!

  3. I especially love the photo with the Christmas balls hanging from a palm frond. I began humming that tune as soon as I saw the title! Merry Christmas.