Since the nearest “big” town from here is 28 miles away we decided to tackle our laundry, grocery shopping & get a diesel fill up for the truck all in one trip. I knew this wasn’t the best time to shop Walmart, being so close to Christmas, but I had ulterior motives. We will be moving, not once but twice in the upcoming 8 days. We also are planning to stop at Lazy Days RV repair center to have a rear brake on the Suite Pea checked. All this plus another holiday to boot. We have no intention of doing the wash or shopping again for at least the next 10-11 days. So get up, get at it & get’er done. And we did. I might add that Walmart wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It was busy, lots of folks bustling about, this is the only shopping center in Chiefland, but everyone was courteous to one another. People politely made room for others to pass often smiling or exchanging pleasantries. WOW! Is this the way of the South or just people getting into the Christmas spirit? Whichever it is I’ll gladly take it.
TUESDAY/CHRISTMAS EVE DAY
Don has been hankering for his favorite Christmas cookie, Peanut Blossoms. I figured they could be dessert for Christmas dinner as well so I baked up a couple ‘a dozen. (That’s Hoosier speak.) He requested a coffee cake for his Christmas breakfast so I made a from scratch Cinnamon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake for him while I was in the mood to bake.
We have a Christmas tradition that we began when we first moved to Indiana from Michigan in 1988, having left behind all of our extended families. We would dress up in our Christmas finery, take a family photo, dine at a fancy restaurant, then attend candlelight service at our church. Over time, with our daughters having grown up, marrying & beginning their own families, that tradition went through a few changes but the Christmas Eve dinner out remains.
Don & I no longer own “finery” but we did keep a few “business casual” outfits, so we “dressed up” in those & off we went to Tony’s Seafood Restaurant in Cedar Key.
Tony’s first opened in 2005 serving up fresh seafood dishes in the historic district of Cedar Key. Within one month of its opening, Tony’s introduced clam chowder to the menu & the rest is history. Chef Eric, the owner, created the clam chowder recipe in Tony’s kitchen while working on a variety of other dishes. Eric had once lived in the New England area & over a 12 year period, he’d sampled chowders all over the Northeast. Thus was created what soon would become a 3 time World Champion Clam Chowder, 2009, 2010 & 2011. With Tony’s 3rd title in 3 years, the recipe was retired into the Great Chowder Cook-Off Hall of Fame. It is considered by many to be the “King of Chowders.”
Now you know why we chose to dine at Tony’s. We HAD TO try the chowder. Tony’s has a small intimate dining area, Don & I were shown a table near a window overlooking historic 2nd Street. We started our meal with the famous Clam Chowder, we weren’t disappointed. It was every bit as delicious as we’d been told it was. Chef Eric doesn’t scrimp on the clam morsels in it that’s for sure. We followed that with a very fine house salad & Tony’s Shrimp Trio dinner. The sides are made from scratch & Eric even has his own take on the cocktail & tar tar sauces. We agree, this was by far one of the best shrimp dishes we have ever tasted. We topped this fine meal off with homemade Key Lime Pie. I should mention here that our waitress Diane was a delight. Friendly, knowledgeable, & our service was prompt. All this & it didn’t break the bank either.
After dinner we drove to the pier to watch the sun setting over the Gulf.
Back at the Suite Pea we had our family photo shoot, fur child included. Thanks to all the technological advances, we were able to Face Time with our Indiana daughters, son-in-law, grandchildren & my mother. It allowed us to participate in their conversations & gift opening. This helped to ease the ache of missing our loved ones. Especially acute at this time of year. Next, we watched The Nativity Story that we had recorded earlier, to the lights of our Christmas tree & “fireplace”. Just before bed, Santa Paws came & filled Tucker’s stocking.
Christmas Day was a different experience for us this year. It wasn’t bad, it was just………………different.
Normally we would have gathered together with family (& family dogs), exchanging gifts, imbibing too much drink or treats. We would have given thanks to our Heavenly Father & broken bread together, & afterwards, my mother, daughters & I would have retreated into the kitchen to clean up while the men & children went off to watch tv or play with their new treasures. From early in the morning & into the evening the house would be a beehive of activity.
This year, it was quiet. Too quiet. Don helped Tucker dig into his stocking & they played with Tuck’s new ball & Quacker while I laid out our breakfast fare. We called our daughters again & our parents to wish them all a Merry Christmas & to hear what Santa had brought. Of course, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without watching our 2 favorite Christmas movies about dysfunctional families, A Christmas Story & Nation Lampoons Christmas Vacation. In the evening we feasted on ham, Brussels sprouts in beer sauce, sweet potato casserole & our Peanut Blossoms.
Although we enjoyed our Christmas & the warm weather, we decided no more Christmases away from family.
Busy, busy, busy. Christmas decorations to take down & pack away. Prepping Suite Pea so she’s ready to roll in the morning. Good thing we had leftovers as I didn’t feel like cooking. Tomorrows destination…..Weeki Wachee.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid………………….