Maia bounced into our bed at 6am. In a loud stage whisper she let us know, “Santa Came!” She turned on the light and showed us her stuffed stocking. Evan shut it off. “It’s not Christmas until the sun comes up,” he told her. “When will that be?” Maia asked as she turned the light back on, “What time zone is this?”
My perpetual question, in this nomadic life of ours, is when does our dream start to detract from Maia’s childhood? At what point do the constant goodbyes, our regularly re-imagined holidays, and the far away relatives offset the goodness of our life?
Before we left, I thought about this a lot. I tried to create traditions that were ours alone and that we could carry where ever we went. What I didn’t realize is that the places we’d arrive at would come with traditions and demands of their own. So those days when I plan to bake a Christmas favourite (if I can even find the ingredients—we were out of luck finding what we needed for a gingerbread house this year…) might end up being cancelled because of a stormy night at anchor. And an afternoon of gift-making might lose out to the arrival of a longed-for new friend.
Christmas this year doesn’t look at all like last season, and it seems even less like the year before that. And Christmas Eve (which has always been a time we’ve spent with close friends) was most unique of all.
We spent the evening at a cruiser’s potluck. 100 people, only a handful known to us by name. We had tequila shots (for us) with old (by cruising standards) friends we first met in Coos Bay, and Maia set off fireworks with a gaggle of teens. Then we went to a Christmas Eve carol service—opting for the English version that was put on by a roving band of 60’s-era style missionaries who were throwing a b-day party for Jesus (heck, it was in the marina). Back on the boat we listened to the VHF radio as a fellow sailor read, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and then settled in to watch “Alastair Sims—A Christmas Carol” (something we always did in my family).
As we snuggled into bed and waited to hear Santa’s sleigh bells, I was content with our odd version of Christmas Eve, but wondered if it was traditional enough for Maia.
But then she bounced into our bed and opened her stocking in the dark. And we gathered around our tree, exchanging gifts while listening to our favourite Christmas carols. And we waved at neighbours, and ate our breakfast in the warm Mexican sun. And I realized our current traditions have little to do with making the right food, or doing the same activities year-after-year. Our current tradition is learning to accept and enjoy the unexpected—and feeling the magic when it finds us.
And so this morning, as we admire our gifts and giggle to the Christmas stories on the Vinyl Café, we’re enjoy a traditional Christmas, one that’s unfolding in ways we can’t quite imagine yet but that is a happy one.
We wish you and yours all the joy of the season.