St. Augustine Christmas: Then vs Now

Pull up a chair, y’all. I’d love to introduce you to a local friend an kindred spirit, Minorcan Mama. As her name implies, Jen was born and raised in St. Augustine- her Minorcan roots may show at Christmas time more than the rest of the year because traditions have a way of persisting through the decades. Today, she’s sharing her recollections of a St. Augustine Christmas: Minorcan Mama Remembers Then vs Now. I’m so glad to introduce you to her! Without further ado, meet Minorcan Mama:

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St. Augustine Christmas: Minorcan Mama Remembers Then vs Now

It’s that time of year, y’all!  All of my seriousness gives way to sentimentality and sappiness.  Everywhere I turn, I see things that bring tears to my eyes.  Decorating the tree with the kiddos, watching a Publix commercial, and especially enjoying my hometown, St. Augustine.  No matter where I go, I am reminded of special memories.  And, being the type of person I am, I have to tell my kids and husband about it… the kids half-listen and I’m sure the husband is thinking he could recite these stories to me after 15 years together!  But, I still tell them, partly because the nostalgia is sweet and partly because I wanna pass to my little ones my memories of times gone by and of family members who are no longer with us.  Memories are a way of keeping those happy times and those people we love with us.

St. Augustine Christmas: Minorcan Mama Remembers Then vs Now
Minorcan Mama’s childhood parade memories and her children with her mom today.

The first weekend in December in St. Augustine has always been special to me.  While some herald the day after Thanksgiving the beginning of the Christmas season, I hold to tradition and wait until that first Saturday in December when the St. Augustine Christmas Parade rolls through town.  Whether I was on the sidelines watching those crazy clowns, or waving from a float, the parade left me with happy memories.  Now that I have kids of my own, you can find us on the sidelines waving big, catching candy and singing Christmas songs.  (And my Mama and me reminiscing about past parades.)  The best moment is when Santa wraps up the parade on a Fire Truck; my little Mister Three and Miss Seven beam with delight and yell, “Santa!  Santa!  Over here!” Christmas is even sweeter through the eyes of your children.

St. Augustine Christmas: Minorcan Mama Remembers Then vs Now

This year, we headed to Lighthouse Park after the parade, which, of course, got me thinking of my childhood attending Frantz Playschool and RB Hunt and swinging in these very trees!  As I watched my two run and jump and swing and laugh, I could almost hear past laughter floating through the trees.

St. Augustine Christmas: Minorcan Mama Remembers Then vs Now
Minorcan Mama’s roots go back to the first lighthouse keeper, Juan Andreu.

While Mister Three played with Daddy and Mimi, Miss Seven and I explored the Lighthouse Museum.  She loved the Wrecked! Exhibit featuring the fun, interactive “Junior Archaeologist,” Star Waters.  We both loved that the Keepers’ House and Lighthouse itself were decorated beautifully for Christmas.  At the end of our tour we enjoyed a treat on the front porch while I shared with her that I myself had explored the Keepers’ House when I was her age, except it was in disrepair and her Grandpa Terry was renovating the dilapidated structure as Superintendent for a local construction company.  I distinctly remember sitting on the back steps with him as he told me how cool it was that he had the opportunity to work there, because it was our ancestor, Juan Andreu, who was the first Lightkeeper in St. Augustine.  I guess maybe that’s where I got the memory-sharing thing from.

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St. Augustine Christmas: Minorcan Mama Recalls Her Family History

So many things in St. Augustine hold special memories for me, especially at the Holidays—the British Nightwatch, the Nights of Lights, all of the wreaths on the Street Lamps downtown, and you better believe that as I make special new memories with my kiddos I’ll be sharing stories of the past.  What are some of your favorite St. Augustine Holiday memories?

Jennifer Andreu-Yarbrough
aka Minorcan Mama
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