We don’t have snow, but there’s nothing wrong with a sand angel on Christmas day instead!
The weeks coming up to Christmas this year were a flurry of packages, Christmas cards and Skyping with family. As our first year on the boat and the first away from family, it was important to us to make Christmas special and establish a bit of our own flair. I had the idea that I would have a fabulous menu planned with all of our presents perfectly wrapped and under our “tree” on Christmas morning ready to go. It turns out I was a little over ambitious on the menu side for my first try (I’m sure I’m not the first person to find that out!), but we still had a great time complete with a visit to the beach!
Our table was piled high on Christmas Eve!
One of the bigger challenges for us this year was trying to coordinate presents for Carter from the extended family. Because his birthday and Christmas are only about a month apart, finding enough gift ideas has always been an issue but this year it was especially so. Unfortunately, most gifts for his age range are space hogs featuring near life-size vehicles, sports equipment, and monstrous play sets. Seeing as how we are a little short on garage space, we had to a little more creative for him and us.
My sister Melissa got Carter a set of Ninja Turtle books. Now I just have to find time to read them.
Luckily for us, his friends on Viatori introduced Carter to the wonderful world of Lego only a few weeks before his birthday. Legos are perfect for boat life since they can be endlessly rearranged in new ways and store into a fairly compact space. Five separate sets of Lego Junior later and a general bucket from Grandma means we are now a fully stocked Lego vessel. Carter also scored some new books, a few superhero costumes, and some new DVDs to add to the collection.
We got Carter a custom book called “The Little Boy Who Lost His Name”. This is us reading it just before he finds out it is about him.
Here is his face when he finally figured it out!
Dan and I actually had quite the list ourselves of things that were luxuries for the boat/entertainment but perfect ideas for Christmas gifts. Here was the list we sent to the family:
- Explorer Charts of the Bahamas
- an Omnia stove-top oven
- waterproof Bluetooth speakers for days on the beach
- Handheld depth finder for our dinghy
- collapsible strainer set
- Underwater camera
- Kick-stand case for the tablet
- Bahamas courtesy flag and yellow Quarantine flag
- The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew by Lin Pardey
Planning for our trip in the full sized charts is much easier than on a screen!
While we missed the family, we still had a great day together and are already enjoying our new gifts. Another Christmas success!
Our first apartment complex after the dorms at college.
In 10 years together, Dan and I have changed dwellings 9 times. If you don’t think that’s a lot, just ask Dan’s parents (a.k.a. the ones with the truck and trailer.) In fact, I would guess that it isn’t even much of a surprise to the extended family that they are asking once again, “So where do we send the Christmas cards this year?”
One of our apartments had a mirror wall in every room. It was quite bizarre!
They say “Home is where your Heart is,” but it’s hard to put your heart into a house that you see as just another financial transaction that happens to also be where you live. While I could be content living pretty much anywhere, the decision making process was always more about profitability than personal preference. We ended up with houses that were livable but never really appealed as a life-long home.
Renovations are a continuous part of our life. One of my favorites was Dan’s kitchen masterpiece.
When we first started boat shopping, all of our old tendencies were at play. We made lists of attributes, scrutinized sea-worthy aspects, evaluated resale value, and estimated upgrade costs (boy were we naive! but that’s another story.) We spent hour after hour crunching numbers and looking at pictures; the boats all began to blur together. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for but once we stepped onto our boat I knew. At lunch the day of our boat showings, I looked at Dan and said, “I know this sounds crazy, but that boat feels like home.”
We woke one morning to find Carter and Winston curled up together at the head of our v-berth.
Nine months later, I’m glad we made the decision to put up with our quirky bed that I can’t make properly and the ugly vinyl cushions. I’m glad because when the rain is hammering and I scramble down the companionway it’s like descending into a cozy cocoon of safety and warmth in the midst of the raging storm just above our heads. I’m thankful because each time we’ve moved, even though we are fighting through the mix of excitement and loneliness that comes with somewhere new, there is immense comfort in knowing that home has come with us. Finding home on a small moving object might be a little crazy, but maybe it just means we have found where we belong.
Carter still got plenty of presents from home, the start of a Lego collection!
Being away from home is one of the biggest costs of this lifestyle and one that we took very seriously before making the decision to move away from a close family. Never has the distance been felt more acutely than going into this holiday season. Not only do we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this Thanksgiving also marked Carter’s fourth birthday and the first one not celebrated surrounded by extended family.
A veggie tray fit for a boat!
Luckily, we were able to spend Thanksgiving in boat style with our friends and boat kids on Viatori as well as a full fledged birthday party. Leah and I made the executive decision to allow Publix to do most of the Thanksgiving cooking for us, since a microwave and small boat oven collectively would have been quite the challenge/hassle to provide a full turkey dinner for 8, but it still turned out fantastic! Leah also saved the day by making brownies for Carter’s birthday since we had a surprise visit from a host of ant friends who decided they would like a taste of the Spiderman cake that we purchased for the occasion.
The boys had a lot of fun playing together.
On Friday, we all went to a fun place called Cool-de-sac in Hallandale Beach. The kids all got to play for a few hours doing crafts, tumbling on gym equipment and playing video games while Leah, Richard, Dan and I were able to enjoy a nice adult dinner. Kid free dinners are a pretty hot commodity when babysitting on a boat is a logistical issue we haven’t quite been brave enough to face yet. Needless to say, we all had a great time and Carter had a fantastic birthday!
Christmas doesn’t quite feel normal without the cold weather, but we’ll survive somehow…
With the Viatori crew getting ready to head back to Canada before Christmas however, we’ll be on our own for the big day. Carter and I have taken up the banner of proper Christmas decorating on a boat: cheap, small, and fire-hazard free! We spent a whole day making construction paper garland, snowflakes for the ports and a homemade glitter Christmas tree. I even picked up a plug-in scented like spruce for a little extra cozy effect. Being away from family on Christmas won’t be easy, but we’re working on making it ours.