I am almost finished with my Christmas shopping! I will be so glad to get finished so I can relax and enjoy the holidays. Last year on this day the Youngest Island boy was sick and had to be taken by helicopter to the Children's Hospital in a nearby town. We were there for 2 days and then when we got home the rest of the family got sick and we were all almost bedridden until the day before Christmas Eve. I frantically did my shopping that day and finished up on Christmas Eve and let me tell you that's one Christmas I don't want to relive LOL Luckily everyone seems to be well this year (I hope saying that doesn't bring trouble) and I'm almost finished with my shopping so we should have a better holiday this year. I've finished planning our menu for Christmas and I've made the shopping list but I'll wait until a little closer to the day before I go and get those things. We've decided against the traditional turkey and dressing this year and are going with gumbo and ham. The Island King makes the best gumbo you've ever put in your mouth and since my parents are coming over for the day and they always beg for gumbo we've decided to go with that. We'll have gumbo and ham sandwiches with a marinated corn salad and a sweet potatoe casserole. We're having some untraditional deserts too. I'm making a strawberry pie and a lemon cream pie along with a pumpkin pie and a hummingbird cake. I realize that lemon pie and strawberry pie scream summer time but that's what everyone likes and so that's what they're going to get. I'll throw in the pumpkin pie so anyone missing the standard Christmas deserts will have something to nibble on. We'll also be baking cookies and fudge to give as gifts and of course some extras to keep here. We've gotten the house decorated and will spend the next week doing holiday stuff. They have set up an ice skating rink nearby so we'll go one evening and try our hand at that. We're from the beach and since there isn't a lot of frozen ice in the Gulf of Mexico ice skating will be an adventure LOL We went year before last and only the Island Girl could actually skate. The rest of us spent most of our time on our bottoms trying to get back up. Should be quite an adventure. We'll also go to the Zoo. They light the entire zoo up with millions of Christmas lights and it's beautiful to wander around the grounds looking at them all. They always have hot chocolate and a train ride that we really enjoy. And of course we have to take the kids to see Santa Claus. They sent letters telling him what they want but it wouldn't be Christmas without sitting on his lap. And we usually spend 2 or 3 nights driving around town looking at everyone's Christmas lights. I've noticed this year there seem to be twice as many houses with a lot of lights up so it will be fun to drive around and admire them all. Now if I can just get my house clean and my laundry caught up I'll be ready!