Welcome back to the holiday season. And perhaps for the first time in three years, this December won’t be la- beled as “COVID Christmas” in our phone’s photo albums.
I’m the first to admit, Christmas in the Keys took some getting used to — we sat outside for Christmas dinner, overlooking Key West Harbor. I optimistically wore a scarf and brought a jacket that remained in the car all night. We shopped for a tree in shorts and sweated as we lashed it to the roof. White rope lights encircled towering palm tree trunks, and green lights speckled from their topmost fronds. Snow-capped pine trees were nonexistent.
It was Christmas 1998 and I had lived in Key West all of five months. Any attempt I made to recreate the holidays up north felt hollow and a little desperate.
Then I attended the tree-lighting at Bayview Park and the Lighted Boat Parade at Schooner Wharf Bar. That’s when it all clicked. I got it and I loved it. Christmas didn’t need to be cold; it just needed to be Christmas, filled with family, friends and goodwill. It was. Has been ever since.
The tropical holidays are now as much a part of me as cold-weather Christmases and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For this edition of our Holiday magazine, the Keys Weekly has fully embraced the coastal Christmas holiday trend, and we celebrate the fact that so many of this year’s trendy decorations echo our coastal vibe. Turns out, sand dollars do make perfect ornaments.
Check out our holiday shopping guide for the best holiday gifts and decor, all from local shops and vendors who call the Keys home. Revisit Christmases past with our three editors and dive into the well-known and oft-quoted world of “A Christmas Story” with writer Erin Stover.
Recall some of the Keys’ earliest Christmases with historian Brad Bertelli. Enjoy a guilt-free New Year’s Eve at home with creative director Stephanie Mitchell as you wind down from the madness of holiday parties. Whip up some sweet surprises, thanks to pro baker Kate Koler, who owns Sweet Savannah’s in Marathon and agreed to share a couple of her prized recipes. And share in the joy of creating new holiday traditions with Sarah Thomas, former Key West Weekly editor, who now blends the tropical holidays with the white-topped mountains in her new home in Switzerland.
Thank you for joining us once again for the holiday season in the Keys. You give us so many reasons to celebrate every week and every holiday season.
Here’s to Christmas in the Keys. Enjoy the warmth of “our” holiday season. Click on the cover below to read.