An Empty-Nesters' Christmas Trip
From Family Christmas Times Together ....
To the "Empty Nesters" Christmas Alone!
For the first 18 years of parenthood, Christmas was a family time filled with traditions established over the years. But eventually the 'baby birds' grow up, fly away and build their own 'nests'. Thus begins their own Christmas times and traditions, as it should be, leaving the parents with an 'empty nest'.
First Christmas as a Parent
Christopher and 'friends'...
On our first Christmas as a parent in 1962, Christopher was barely 3 months old. Christmas was mainly stuffed toys and animals for him, but we began establishing some of the Christmas traditions that were to become part of every Christmas from then on. Bob had some favorite Christmas memories from his childhood; I had some from mine, so favorite traditions were 'merged' and others were added as time went on.
A Son and a Daughter
Christmas 1968 found us living in Lincoln, Nebraska and our family now included 6-year-old Christopher and 3-year-old Kimberly. Sleepy-looking Kim was actually a very sick little girl who barely had the energy to unwrap her gifts.... and no interest in playing with her new toys. She had pneumonia and ran a high fever and we had to 'beg' the pediatrician to let her stay out of the hospital long enough for Christmas morning with big brother. A scary Christmas Day, but she soon recovered.
It's Christmas Day, 1974 in North Augusta, South Carolina.
Little brother, Gregory, joined Chris & Kim and the three children enjoyed Christmas morning together.
Our family is complete!
And now we are a Family of Five! (Plus the Cat Stocking :-)
Christmas in California - 1975
Our Christmas times were shared in many different places over the years.
We lived on the California Central Coast when the children were school-age. This was our first Christmas in California after a major move across country from South Carolina! Coast-to-coast, Christmas is always special.
Christmas with Teenagers
Missouri - 1985
Another move... and now we're in Columbia, Missouri.
The teen years were upon us. The 'kids' were bigger, the gifts had changed from dolls & toy trucks to clothes, music, books and 'gadgets'.
The Family Continues to Grow...
Missouri - 1990
Still in Missouri -- different house...
By 1990, the 'kids' were quite grown up. The youngest was in college and the older two brought 'significant others', who would later become their spouses, home for Christmas.
But Christmas is Still a Family Holiday.
By Christmas 1993 we had retired to Tybee Island, Georgia. We were technically 'empty-nesters' at that time, but holidays still brought the 'kids' home.
The youngest, Greg, was married and attending graduate school in Florida, Kimberly was living in St. Louis, and Christopher & wife Kathie were in Kansas City. At the time, my mother was also living in Florida, so for the next few years most everyone traveled to our house for the holidays.
Christmas 1994 included a Wedding!
A Joyous Wedding Occasion for Christmas
Christmas 1994 we actually had an overflow of visitors. In addition to our three grown 'kids' and my mother, our guests included Kimberly's best friend, Dawn, who came to be her 'maid-of-honor', as Kim & Paul were married on December 23rd - two days before Christmas - at the Lighthouse on Tybee Island.
After the wedding, everyone stayed on for Christmas Day.
Christmas Morning 1994
First Holiday with an "Empty Nest"
For 6 more years, Christmas continued to be a "together" time. But by 1999, we had finally become true 'empty-nesters'. Greg now had 2 sons and had moved to Denver. My mother had moved back to New York State. Our other two were married and had busy lives in the Midwest. Suddenly we were facing Christmas alone and the whole point of a 'family' Christmas was missing.
What we decided to do that first Christmas we were 'alone' was to NOT stay home and NOT decorate for the holidays, In other words, do something completely different. What we did was to take a CHRISTMAS TRIP.
Christmas Morning - 1999
Christmas morning 1999, the extent of our holiday decorations was a tiny ceramic Christmas Tree on our dining room table surrounded by the gifts we were giving each other and ones our family had sent. We'd earlier mailed out our gifts to the rest of the family. We had our traditional Christmas breakfast of sweet rolls, juice and coffee, opened our gifts, then packed up and left for...... CHARLESTON!
From Savannah, GA to Charleston, SC
Christmas in Charleston
We'd decided that Christmas in Charleston, South Carolina (only about a 3-hour trip from our home in Georgia) was the perfect 'getaway'. Charleston has many interesting holiday events and places to visit, so we found a 'deal' on a hotel in Mount Pleasant, SC (located just across the Charleston Harbor from the city of Charleston) that offered a 2-for-1 package (stay one night, 2nd night free) and that's what we did.
The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge (shown here) connects Charleston with Mount Pleasant, SC on Highway 17.
Charleston and Savannah ... Sights to See in the Coastal Low-Country
I wish I'd had this book before our trip. It would have been a great help for some of the best must-see sights and local secrets of Charleston, and probably some things I didn't already know about Savannah and the Georgia/South Carolina Low-Country!
The Savannah and Charleston areas, with their surrounding coastal islands, are known collectively as the 'Low-country', because of all the rivers and marshy areas. I've lived here for more than 15 years and there are still things I'm learning about this delightful area of the Southern U.S.
The Weather Did Not Cooperate!
But we took the trip anyway!
We should have taken into consideration the effect the Austin Weather Curse* would have on our trip, but we blithely left the house, got in the car, and drove to Charleston ... in the 'pouring rain'! The high temperature of the day hovered around 42 degrees; fog and rain dominated the day - and night - and continued on into the second day of our two-day 'getaway'. The end result was the cancellation of some of our Christmas Trip sight-seeing plans, but cold and wet though we became, we couldn't give up everything we had planned to see and do! After all, it's Christmas!
*The 'Austin Weather Curse' is a long story - best told in another Hub!
Christmas Day in Charleston & Mount Pleasant...
2:00 PM: Arrived at hotel in Mount Pleasant, SC. Checked in, then went for a quick ride around the Mount Pleasant area.
3:00 PM: Raining too hard to see much - foggy on the waterfront - returned to hotel. Decided our plans for a seafood dinner on the waterfront and our driving tour of the annual "Holiday Festival of Lights" was a 'washout'.
6:00 PM: Had dinner in the hotel dining room, empty except for about 3 other people in the same boat we were.
7:00 PM: Returned to hotel room. Spent rest of evening 'inside' due to weather. We DID get to see a movie on TV that had been filmed in Savannah about a story that took place in Savannah and which we had yet to see, so the TV screen brought a bit of 'home' into our hotel room. The movie was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Quite a coincidence! Drive 3 hours away from home, and we're transported back via television!
U.s.s. Yorktown (cv-10)
An Essex-class aircraft carrier
Day After Christmas - December 26: Still cold, still lightly raining and foggy. But... onward and upward. One of the sights we REALLY wanted to see was the Museum Ship USS Yorktown located right down the road from our hotel in Mount Pleasant, SC. Bob has always had a big interest in military history.
USS Yorktown (CV/CVA/CVS-10) was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II. She is named after the Battle of Yorktown of the American Revolutionary War. Commissioned in April 1943, she participated in several campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations. The ship was then decommissioned shortly after the end of the war and in the early 1950s she was modernized and recommissioned as an attack carrier (CVA), and then eventually became an antisubmarine carrier (CVS). Recommissioned too late to participate in the Korean War, she served for many years in the Pacific, including duty in the Vietnam War, in which she earned five battle stars. Late in her career she was used in the movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" which recreated the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Yorktown also served as a recovery ship for the Apollo 8 space mission. The Yorktown was decommissioned in 1970 and in 1975 became a museum ship at Patriot's Point, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. She is a National Historic Landmark.
We spent about 4 hours touring the USS Yorktown and still didn't see all of it. Aircraft carriers are very big! Twice we left the ship and walked back to the Museum gift shop, partly to browse, partly to 'warm up'. Despite the cold and wet weather, we enjoyed our tour.
USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier - Our few pictures on this rainy tourClick thumbnail to view full-size
A Memory of our tour of the USS Yorktown
Finished off the day with a Seafood Dinner
Nothing like 'Seafood' on the waterfront!
December 26, 6:00 PM: After the Patriots Point tour, we returned to our hotel and changed for dinner. We found a delightful seafood restaurant near Charleston Harbor in Mount Pleasant and had a very delicious shrimp scampi meal.
End of our Christmas Trip to Charleston
December 27 - end of trip: The following morning we checked out of our hotel and drove home to Tybee Island. Despite the cold and the rain, our Christmas trip to the Charleston, SC area was an interesting diversion to the 'empty-nest' feel to our first Christmas alone.
What We Didn't Get to See! - Holiday Festival of Lights
Holiday Festival of Lights, Charleston, SC
For more than 20 years, the Holiday Festival of Lights has taken place in James Island County Park located just a short drive from downtown Charleston.
We were very disappointed that the weather kept us from seeing this beautiful display during our Christmas Trip, because judging by the pictures on the following website, it is a beautiful Christmas event well worth seeing. Beginning November 14 and continuing through December 31, the festival is a great place to gather family and friends to capture the magic of the holiday season. Details are available at the Charleston County Parks website.
A Special Christmas Trip!
Our life's journey involved many location changes. We've spent Christmas in 7 different States and half-again as many residences. We've taken only two trips away from home at Christmas-time... this has been one of them.
Thanks for joining us on our 'Christmas Trip'. It was fun to share the 'memories'. Wishing you all a very Happy Holiday Season!
© 2009 Wednesday-Elf