Hotel Living for the Holidays

By: Peggy Willms

(3 min read)

Living in Southwest Florida during the Christmas holidays does have a unique flavor. It took me a bit to get used to seeing bulbs hanging from palm tree leaves, Santa on surfboards, and no reminder it is December – 84 degrees and no freshly falling snow.

I love Christmas! If I could, I would leave my tree up year-round, and perhaps someday I will. For this year, we must settle for a hotel’s beautiful, decorated lobby.

As an in-the-moment writers, which most bloggers are, we tend to write about things “in the now.” Not always, but mostly. We tend to write about whom we see, what we do, how we are influenced, and enlightened moments that likely happened over the last few weeks or months. If you have been following me, you may be sick and tired of my sharing our life post-Hurricane Ian, but it truly changed my life forever and will be at the forefront of my daily living for months to come.

Yesterday, I was reminded of just how real our situation is as we packed our last personal belongings out of our new home and headed to a location where we will stay for up to six months. Our home had extensive damage. As they mitigate our home the next week to assess internal damage, (“Behind the Walls,” which will likely become my next blog, so hang in there if you dare), they will be wiping down all our furniture with bacteria-killing cleaner and wrapping it up to be stored in temperature-controlled pods in our driveway until they move it back in after completion. So, we walked out with clothes, food, paperwork, and our work equipment. It was one of the most unreal emotional experiences I have had as we drove away, trusting our entire home in the hands of dozens of strangers. “JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL.”

We chose an extended hotel versus a VRBO or Airbnb for many reasons, bringing me back to our experience checking into our hotel lobby yesterday. First, my nose was filled with pine, then felt the warmth from the fire (WTH, it is Florida), and there were the old-fashioned Mrs. and Santa Clause decorations everywhere. Oh, and life-size nutcrackers. And, people are pouncing around as jolly as Saint Nick himself. Admittedly, I haven’t “gotten out of the house” much in the last six months. With moving and the hurricane – not to mention writing a few books, we have had our noses to the grindstone. Checking in here, changed that. My shoulders dropped, my smile returned, and I wondered just how long it is going to take me to hop on the free bikes and venture down to the beach. Worrying about chasing water out of the vents, fire alarms, ceiling and walls of our home with each rain, vanished. Stressing about the increasing smells of must and dampness in the air, faded.

It didn’t take long for us to assess more of our surroundings and meet a few others who have been hunkered down in this hotel for weeks and some for months. There is a sense of understanding between us post-hurricaners. Explaining to those who have not gone through an event like this has been daunting. “Why are you living there – move.” “Get out of that house. It could be filled with mold.” “Why didn’t you evacuate?” And to all those questions, I respectfully say we are not idiots, and we are doing the best we can. Oh, and by the way, here are my shoes if you would like to see if they fit!!!

We won’t be putting our decorations up this year. We won’t be having guests visit from out of town. We won’t be listening for Santa to slide down the chimney or see how many bites he took from the sugar cookies we left.

But last night, I settled in for a long winter’s nap, recognizing we will be hotel living for the holidays, and we damn-straight will make the best of it.

Peggy Willms
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC

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