I’m sitting here at a giant dining room table with Dave’s family. We came down to St. Augustine, FL for Dave’s Dad’s 70th birthday. It’s been a blast.

I must admit that it’s an experience for me to be with a big family – Dave has six siblings – who are used to multiple conversations and lots of activity. I’m just not used to this much noise. But it’s really, really fun to be around people who are caring and fun, and who don’t expect me to make any decisions at all. A lovely Christmas.

Today, we’re going to Castille de San Marcos, an old Spanish fort here, and as I write I can see the Atlantic ocean from the window. In the gloaming last night, I walked along the shore and everyone was giddy with a beachy-Christmas. I met a dog named Molly and petted a beagle who was revelling in the surf. Dave and his brothers threw a football, and Dave’s five-year-old nephew wrote words – HHICD is a favorite – in the sand for me to read. Not a bad way to spend the holiday.

In moments, I read The Changeling by Keith Donahue. In others, I just sit and listen to the fun. The conversations of family are constantly fascinating. The long-standing jokes and nuances of inflection are slowly becoming more clear, like I’m learning a new language by immersion.

At the moment, we are discussing who left out the cream cheese and watching how even the young know to save the top of the muffin for later. It’s a nice way to be reminded of the key elements of Christmas – family, stillness, the beauty of nature. All in their own ways miracles.

St. Augustine Beach