Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from Shiloh

Merry Christmas. It’s pouring, the dark skies are dumping big time, and the wind is whistling. We awoke to a leak in the hatch above our heads. Drip, drip, drip.

At 4:30am the Holy Church of Blasting Music set up their deafening speakers somewhere on the beach to enlighten us out in the bay through distorted gospel tracks and pastor/DJ on a power trip. Welcome to Christmas morning, Carriacou style! The good thing about the rain was that it drowned out the sound system. Hopefully that was literally!
If I sound a bit bah-humbug, it’s not intentional. I am on a boat in the tropics after all. It just doesn’t seem like Christmas to a Canadian.
There was a time when a storm outside at Christmas meant cuddling up in bed, with the fireplace crackling and the sounds and smells of the season wafting through the house. Baking, cinnamon, dry warmth, the smell of new plastic toys…. Here it means jumping up and peering through the pocked Perspex windows, watching our position in the bay, with a keen eye on our proximity to the others – have we dragged? Is anyone else dragging? Are any hatches open or leaking? Do we have the rain catchers out? 
Shiloh all dolled up for Christmas
There is no commercialism here. No shopping - it's difficult to find carrots! No traffic, no hectic rushing around. Nothing to stress about (except the weather!). But also no family.
This is the first Christmas without any of our children. They have grown and have made other choices, spending time with other families, other friends, other countries. It’s a good feeling to know they are happily living their lives, as are we. But I still have those small pangs – wishing I could see their sleepy faces on Christmas morning, gifts under a tree… playing silly games, their youthful banter.
I must say though, that sailing friends are special. We’re all in the same boat, so to speak. Each of us with stories, families, lives far away that we’ve left behind in this nautical pursuit of freedom and fun and adventure. We connect. We gel. We bond instantly. And we learn how to say farewell as easily.
We definitely know how to have fun. So Carriacou it is for this holiday. It could be any island really, it's the people who make it shine. Along with a lot of rum!
The gang - pre-Xmas party at Miss Lucky's
But last night, as Shiloh lapped calmly in the bay, Christmas lights aglow, and we mulled amongst the party goers on shore, another Shiloh called me. All the happy voices muted, the festive faces blurred. An angel of Christmas past touched me lightly and settled into my heart.
A time before boats and bays, when my little one would wake on Christmas morning excited for the day. When his gaze, so deep would meet mine and melt me. The boy I could never hold tight enough. Couldn’t keep him here for the many more Christmas mornings he should have seen.
 He visited with a grin though, a deep wide grin and I held him there, oblivious to the chatter and cheer around me. That was my Christmas present this year. 
I am headed to a party of 20 on a boat. Good friends and good cheer. My boys are in my heart and they give me the happiness at the end of every day, that makes the season truly joyous. Merry Christmas Quinci and Merry Christmas Shiloh. Love you forever.

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