Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Toys for Tots....and my trip to Florida...

The weekend after Thanksgiving I went down to Florida to visit my cousins.  They are so generous to me and invite me down each year to spend some time relaxing with them.  I love the time to connect and talk with them, they are really awesome people.

This year, I was lucky enough to be there for the weekend of the boat parade.  The boat parade is so cool! My cousin's house is right on the inter-coastal, and we sat on their boat dock and watched tons of boats drive by all dressed up in Christmas lights!  I love Christmas in Florida...they really do it up right!

I stole borrowed this picture from the Palm Beach Boat Parade's website because I couldn't get a good picture of what it looked like with the boats coming down the inter-coastal.

Here are a few pictures I took from the boat dock. They are a little blurry, but it was raining a bit.

The first boat that comes shoots fireworks from the boat! Poor little Gwen, their dog, wasn't a huge fan of the fireworks...but she was a trooper and hung out with us for the majority of the parade!

Now, for my absolute favorite part of the weekend and for my favorite part of this event....

The boat parade is a Toys for Tots event.  The last boat of the parade goes around to all the houses along the parade route and collects toys for tots!

On the morning of the boat parade, we all went to a shopping event that my cousin's wife was hosting at a beautiful country club.  We got to do some shopping and I bought some pretty bracelets and we all had a nice lunch.  Then my cousin and I went to Toys R Us and he said "grab a cart and load it up".  We each grabbed a shopping cart and had a blast going around the store picking out toys that we would have liked as kids.  My cart was more focused on the girl toys and his was focused on toys for boys.  My cousin has a huge heart, and is blessed to be able to be so charitable...definitely an inspiration!!

I took a picture of my cart before we checked out!  Here it is!  I added a few more gifts after I took this picture, so it was loaded up really well!

When we were in line, a woman asked how many kids we had to be buying all these toys.  It was cool to see the look on her face when we said they were all for charity.  I know it makes my cousins proud to be able to do this, and it was so awesome to be a part of it!

It was a great weekend!  We shopped at the shopping event, got toys for kids who will be so very happy, saw a gorgeous boat parade, browsed around a craft fair, and went to a really cool house tour of historic houses in Flamingo Park.  The houses were all small historic homes, some were just 1 bedroom, but they all had so much character! My favorite home had the most amazing backyard, with a gorgeous pool and an adorable pool house.  It made me want to pack-up and move to Florida!

The weekend definitely reminded me that the holidays are about doing things for other people.  True happiness around the holidays, and all times of the year, comes from giving.  This year I have sponsored 2 families on the giving tree at church and I am going this weekend to load up a big cart at the Toys R Us here to donate to charity.  I also want to donate my time, and may volunteer Christmas week at one of the homeless shelters.

When life gets really tough around the holidays, it's easy to forget about the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus did so many wonderful things for people, that the best way we can celebrate his birthday is to do kind deeds for others.  I know for myself, it's easy to feel sad about the people who have passed away, or feel sad that I don't have a family of my own to share it with, but what I do realize is that I am so very blessed with wonderful extended family, amazing friends, my health and the means to be able to not only take care of myself but to help others.  There is always so much to be thankful for.

xoxo Nikki

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