Sanibel Island diehards tend to take the Christmas holiday period somewhat for granted - no snow, warm weather, beaches, sandals and T-shirts.
It's not so easy for our visitors from up north.
"It's different being here," said Diane Elmerick, visiting from Indiana. "I mean, you can see all the decorations and know it's Christmas, but I'm not used to it being this nice, and warm. It's a bit strange to us. Unfortunately, we have to go back to the cold and snow up north for Christmas."
Courtesy of Chris Koerner
House at the end of Palm Street on Sanibel.
Yes, it is quite an adjustment ... unless you live here every year at this time.
Christmas on the island is celebrated many different ways besides the traditional church services and family gatherings poolside.
One of the more popular attractions is the Chapel-By-The-Sea worship on Christmas Eve night. Music fills the evening sky under strings of colorful Christmas lights with candlelight and carol singing. Rev. Thomas Nyman says the magnificent Christmas lights are lit until 9 p.m. every night through Jan. 6.
Evening and daytime services were held at virtually all places of worship. Sanibel Community Church's congretation got to celebrate its first Christmas in the newly constructed Sanctuary building with three evening services on Christmas Eve surrounded by a brightly lit campus grounds.
Others spent at least some Christmas time helping others less fortunate, like the Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club's Santa Run. Gifts were collected at the Sanibel Fire Station on Palm Ridge Road and Santa distributed the gift packages around the island between 6 and 8 p.m. on Dec. 23.
Holiday festivities don't stop there, either.
Dec. 31 brings a gala New Year's Eve celebration at the Sanibel Recreation Center followed by the famous Polar Bear Plunge at Tarpon Bay Beach.
Though not as physically demanding as similar plunges along the shore in colder climes, the one on Sanibel still attracts an adventurous group. The Sanibel-Captiva Chapter of the National Polar Bear Club meets "at the crack of noon" on New Year's Day to plunge into the 60-degree surf.
Sanibel's 4th annual "Poppin', Hoppin' & Bubblin' into 2013" New Year's Eve party delights and entertains hundreds of guests from 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 12:15 a.m. on Jan. 1. The festivities include performances by a professional magician, juggler, and ventriloquist as well as food, beverages, games, dancing, a music DJ, adult Bingo with prizes valued at more than $9,000, a silent auction and 50/50 raffle leading up to a midnight ball drop finale.
A limited number of seats are available for the Bingo room, which cost $85 each ($100 at the door), including general admission.
For more information on the New Year's Eve party call (239) 472-0345.