Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas in the Caribbean: Getting into the Spirit in Paradise

I love Christmas. It is, bar none, my favorite time of year. While I'd like to say that, despite the lack of snow, it still feels very much like Christmas down here - that would be a lie. But we do have spirit! The main difference (besides the aforementioned lack of snow) is the fact that we aren't surrounded by family as we would typically be this time of year. We're not cuddled in front of a fire watching Christmas movies (possibly my favorite holiday tradition), and Scott is working like mad every single day because right now it's "peak season" down here. The snowy long drives into the homes and arms of loved ones are not in our future for a while, so instead we get to be with the family we "choose" (our friends) and we get into the spirit in other ways.

The girls and I decorated our boat with holiday crafts during our famed week of quarantine, and we're going to be making decorations for our tiny tree (compliments of our best friends, the Sunkissed Soeters) on Christmas Eve, mostly because the twins would no doubt have destroyed any construction paper ornaments we make if we'd done it any sooner. Which brings me to another point of why this year feels a little different; the twins. Haven and Mira are at that very tricky 'in-between' age where they are into EVERYTHING. Crafts are difficult (at best) to complete, and watching a Christmas movie with them? Forget about it! These babies don't sit still! Baking cookies with them? Insanity! They're too young to even understand Christmas, so there's not a ton of pressure to 'make it magical' for them not to mention the fact that we are outside, and not in our boat, 90% of their wakeful hours. Isla, however, does get it and I'm trying to keep the spirit going for her as best I can.

We were able to visit Santa before we came down (and before Thanksgiving when there were zero lines and Santa wasn't burned out). I hadn't planned on going but Isla saw him from the mall indoor play park we were at and insisted on paying him a visit. "Mommy! Do you think he will be able to come to our boat?" she asked me with pained eyes. "Of course he will," I told her. "Santa gets to visit all children." "But..." she started with a sad face, "We don't have a chimney." It was decided then and there that we'd make sure Santa knew where to find us. We went right up to him and after a little coaxing, she spoke to him, "Santa...we live on a boat and don't have a chimney. You are going to have to come through our companionway. Is that okay? Can you still come see us?" Our awesome Santa gave a hearty laugh, told his Elf to take some notes and said, "Where is your boat darling?" Isla told him that we lived on Tortola and that our boat was blue and named 'Asante'. He then told her that he used to live on a boat in Hawaii in the summers with Mrs. Claus and that he actually had a dinghy! "I will take my dinghy to your boat!" he told her with a smile. Isla's eyes lit up and she looked at me with a beaming grin. "And don't you worry," he continued, "I can get on your boat and come through your cockpit to see you. My Elf has taken notes and I will not forget you!" After that, the girls all sat on his lap and Isla told him she wanted a stuffed Hello Kitty doll for Christmas, gave him a big hug and we were on our way. The relief she felt was so obvious, I had no idea she was so worried about him not being able to visit. Point for the spontaneous Santa encounter - it was all she talked about for days. "Santa has a dinghy!" she'd excitedly tell anyone who would listen.

We're also keeping spirit alive in other ways...Our Elf, Crispin, has followed us to the boat, and while I completely forgot to move him during our crazy week of illness, he has come back to life and been sneaking around our boat each evening, finding a new spot to hide (easier than you'd think on a small boat!) where he can watch the girls during the day and report back to Santa in the night. We listen to Christmas Carols and this morning made some Christmas cards for a few of our favorite friends and marina employees (you better believe the beach bar is getting one! Our girls are bellied up to it every day!) Darcy and I are going to do a little beach "treasure hunt" on Christmas day for the kids (our hubbies will be working) and her and I are also planning a beach pot-luck for our families and anyone else who wants to join. My cousin, Emily, is flying in to be with us and we're hoping to spend time with our good friends Jody and Peter from Where the Coconuts Grow as well. We will also be writing him a detailed note and thank you to Santa tomorrow. As well as leaving him some cookies and carrots for his reindeer.

We are also talking a lot about the "spirit" of Christmas and what it really means, namely: being with the people you love, saying "thank you" for what you have, and helping others. We don't go crazy on gifts over here, just a few small things for each girl - and they're not expecting much because we've never gone crazy for Christmas. It's all about family, friends, and love. That's what matters most. Gifts are just icing on the cake.

So that's what our Christmas will look like down here. As much as I miss the crackling fire, eggnog, jumbo cocktail shrimp and being surrounded by family in a warm and cozy home, I'm definitely happy to be here and - honestly - I don't miss the snow one bit. The beach will do me just fine!

Merry Christmas, everyone. Much love from our family to yours. May all be Merry and Bright! xoxo

Reindeer footprint decorations.
Christmas cards ready to be delivered! 
Simple ornaments strung up (out of the reach of the twins) on our indoor Christmas lights.
Some of our home-made decorations. 
Ornament colored by Mira.
Our sneaky Elf, Crispin, on the lookout for good behavior! 
Our boat as decked as we can be this year, with our tiny tree ready to be decorated tomorrow morning.
Christmas in the Caribbean
Snowbirds fill the air
Christmas in the Caribbean
Lots of presents everywhere
We don't live in a hurry
Send away for mistletoe
Christmas in the Caribbean
We got everything but snow.
- Jimmy Buffett


Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas to you guys!

Unknown said...

Enjoy the Christmas day and Caribbean location is best for enjoy Christmas. All the best.

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MaryJo Boyle said...

This post made my day...I'm sad because we can't be with our family in Minnesota for Christmas, but I feel cheerier (is that a word?) just seeing your photos. Thanks for another great post.

Louise said...

Just catching up on your blog, and the story of Isla and Santa made me so happy! It also inspired me to do a Google image search for "Santa Claus dinghy" which led to lots of great pictures. His story was completely true!

And thanks for the nautical Night Before Christmas. We both appreciated that Santa's gift was fixing a few systems...Best. Present. Ever.

Unknown said...

OH my goodness! Your Christmas party also seems so fun and interesting. Thanks for sharing your family photographs here. The kiddos look so excited on the holy day. I also hosted a fun party for my kiddos ate their favorite Chicago event venues for kid. They enjoyed it a lot.

Daisy said...

I like the way you take your photos! My tip for light: shifting light source relative to the object to the side, you get much more interesting results, as this will make the light more pronounced shape and texture. And use editing soft to edit your RAW photos!

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