Christmas in Savannah

We arrived in Savannah December 9th at around 6pm for our one-month stay and were surprised at the airport by our family, who were all dressed in delightful ugly Christmas sweaters.  After such an early start and a long day we were happy to see them.

Exhausted, hungry, and worn down from colds we had caught during our last few days in Massachusetts, we picked up our luggage (Delta lost our booster seat, of course, but they cheerfully provided us with a temporary replacement) and our little Ford Fusion rental (cost: $865/month, insurance covered by Visa) and followed my father, stepmother, sister, and two nieces to Seasons of Japan, a Japanese fast-food restaurant on the way from the airport.  We had a simple but tasty meal and did some catching up.  It had been a couple of months since we had seen everyone in Mexico and we were thrilled to be with them all again.

After dinner we drove into Historic Savannah and checked into our apartment (cost:  $2636/month including AirBnB fees) which turned out to be adorable.  It was on the second floor of an old carriage house and had plenty of space for two tired adults and an energetic, Lego-happy 5-year-old.  Our hosts outfitted the apartment well with just about everything we needed for cooking (which is sorely missed in our current digs in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica), the beds were comfy, and the shower had great hot water and pressure.  It was practically paradise.

Our apartment for the month on the second floor of 614 Abercorn in Historic Savannah
“How about this one?”

The location was ideal.  Beautiful Forsyth Park, complete with an amazing playground, was less than a 5-minute walk away, and the lovely squares, shops, and restaurants of Savannah were only a 10-15 minute walk.

The first few days were a bit on the boring side, as I was still recovering from a nasty cold that had kicked my ass for the better part of two weeks.  Juliann had planned to get a Christmas tree and invite the family over to decorate it the day after we arrived, but I was in rough shape and overly grouchy, so we postponed it for another day.

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After a few days of taking it easy at the apartment we finally went out and got a tree.  Not at a tree farm, which was our pre-nomad-lifestyle tradition, but at Lowe’s, which ended up being not quite as bad as I thought it would be.  We strapped it to the roof of our little rental and brought it home.

The family joined us in decorating it, and the weeks leading up to Christmas were pretty sleepy.  I was sick, Braeden was just getting over his cold, and my father, stepmother, and niece all came down with various and sundry colds and viruses.  We spent most of our time relaxing at the apartment or at my parents’ house in Richmond Hill, hanging out with the family, enjoying meals together, taking our rat terrier Hero (who now lives with Auntie…did I mention that WE LOVE AUNTIE?!?) for a walk, and spending plenty of time goofing around and laughing it up.

Decorating the tree with Cousin Kenz
My brother Matt’s friends hooked him up with this ridiculous apartment in the Historic District for a few days

My brother Matt took a few days off from his job to come and visit.  He’s the “Water Sports Guy” for a couple of New York billionaires and he spends his time flying around the world and kitesurfing with them in exotic locales off of luxurious megayachts.  His life sucks.  I had a chance to spend an evening getting into trouble with him and my sister, Leslie at the Alley Cat Lounge, a cool spot just off Broughton Street.  Staff with just the right mix of sass and humor served up tasty cocktails while we chilled in a comfy booth to great music.

A few nights later Juliann and I finally consented to Braeden’s very first sleepover, something we’ve been reluctant to do.  He drove off with Grammie Blew with a huge smile on his face, and after we got over an abrupt bout of sadness we skipped  over to the famed Crystal Beer Parlor for a bite.  We’d been trying to get to the Parlor for years, but every time we were foiled by huge crowds and long waits.  We were able to snag two seats at the bar, and we munched on delicious burgers and appetizers and enjoyed a couple of cocktails while enjoying the Christmas decorations and the low murmur of the cheerful crowd.

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Then we treated ourselves to a stop at The Olde Pink House Tavern, a dimly lit downstairs pub with a baby grand lurking in the corner and glowing candles everywhere.  The bartenders were a lot of fun, and we enjoyed chatting it up with them and spending quality time together that we rarely get on the road.

Family Business

My parents and sister recently started another business (my parents have had several – which explains a lot about me) that’s been showing early promise, and they wanted to bounce some ideas around.  We spent several days around the dinner table with my brother Scott, who came to visit a few days after Matt left (yes, they couldn’t get their acts together and visit at the same time).

There’s not much I enjoy more than talking about the inner workings of a business, so I had a great time tinkering with them and planning different experiments.  I also spent quality time with my father teaching him how to get around an Excel spreadsheet.  That’s how fathers and sons typically bond, right?

Looking over all the candy
A big barrel of Eggnog Taffy

One day my father came into town for a few hours so the four of us hung out and took a walk down to River Street to wander a bit.  We stopped into our favorite candy store, Savannah Candy Kitchen, munched on  free praline samples (YUM!) and watched  Eggnog taffy being made.

Another night Juliann and I went to Elizabeth on 37th for dinner (yes, another date night…we were getting spoiled) and enjoyed an amazing meal with excellent service in a beautiful setting.  Elizabeth was formerly a mansion and has been restored to a collection of elegantly decorated dining rooms.  We loved it.

After Elizabeth we ducked the rain and took an Uber to Alligator Soul for a drink.  When we walked in it was clear that they were going to be closing soon, as the lights were up and the staff was cleaning the bar and tending to the last remaining table of diners.  However, they warmly welcomed us in for a drink and we took some seats by the fireplace in the very comfortable leather furniture.  Even though the lights were up for closing time the atmosphere was very cozy and the menu looked pretty damned good, so we’re looking forward to dinner at Alligator Soul the next time we’re in town.

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We finished off the night with a trip to Lulu’s Chocolate Bar, a delightful little dessert and cocktail bar to which we had been introduced by my brothers when they had graduated from SCAD nearly 10 years earlier.  It was as comfortable as we remembered, and we ordered a slice of pie and a couple of delicious cocktails to round off the evening.

One of the many beautiful squares in the Historic District

Christmas

Last year we had a great, though unorthodox, Christmas in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Braeden was unexpectedly able to meet Santa.  In a biker bar, of all places, but it was Santa nonetheless.

This year Juliann and I were excited to spend Christmas with extended family again, and to have a bit more room for a tree and decorations.  Braeden was thrilled to spend plenty of quality time with his grandparents, aunt, uncles, and cousins baking Christmas cookies, decorating the tree, and doing other fun holiday stuff.

Christmas day we woke up at our apartment to a note from Santa, full stockings, and a couple of presents.  He opened the gifts, read the note, we all dumped out our stockings and gleefully pored over their contents, and then we quickly dressed and headed to Grammie and Papa’s house.

There Braeden discovered that Santa had left him a huge pile of presents, we spent the day hanging out with our family, opening gifts, and having a ton of laughs.

Savannah is full of in-your-face beauty and many, many hidden nooks like this

Christmas marked the better-than-halfway point in our time in Savannah, and the last couple of weeks went quickly.  We grabbed breakfast with my brother Scott at our favorite morning spot, J. Christopher’s (BLUEBERRY CRUNCHCAKES!), had another night out on the town including a visit to the very disappointing “exclusive speakeasy” Mata Hari, and buckled down for a freak snowstorm.

According to locals we talked with, Savannah hadn’t seen snow on the ground in a good thirty years, and the arrival of a couple of inches shut the city down completely.  We didn’t mind because it was relatively easy for us to walk around and we have decades of experience driving in similar conditions, but it was fun to watch people out in the streets dancing and playing in the snow.

I also managed to get in some solid workouts at CrossFit Steadfast, a great little gym just a 15 minute walk from our apartment.  Owners Sabrina and Brian are great folks and have put together a wonderful community in their gym.

The early hours of a once-in-a-generation snowstorm in Savannah

January came, and we pared down our belongings by packing up everything we weren’t taking on the road with us in a box (Goodbye, jeans! See you later, pajama pants!) and shipping it back to New England.  On the 8th we made our last trip for awhile to Richmond Hill to spend the day with family, and that evening we hugged everyone goodbye and returned to our little apartment in Savannah to do the last of our packing.

The next morning we woke before dawn, tossed our backpacks in the trunk of the Fusion, and headed to the airport.  Delta screwed up a few things along the way (they had changed our original flight to an ungodly hour without telling us, which I discovered just a few days earlier) including a comical “Umm, where do we go?” moment on the tarmac with about a dozen other passengers at our layover in Charlotte, but we managed to finally make our way south to our home for the next three months:

Costa Rica!

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