As dawn breaks early the next morning, we all wake to find nibbles taken from our cookies and the carrots with one chomp, spit back out. I guess Dolphins don’t like carrots, next year we will have to leave some sardines. Santa has visited, and Sonrisa’s cabin is laden with the spoils of Christmas having arrived, and the guitar case perched suspiciously in the corner like a Christmas Gift. What the…Santa?
I go first and open a custom-made beer coozie complete with instructions to go forthwith to town where Santa has arranged with a tailor to make me a custom made Sea-Dragon Wetsuit. Apparently, the suit is already in the works, she just needs me to attend a fitting to make it perfect.
Tasman and Osmond each receive memorabilia from Thailand, along with a coupon for their respective favorite treats.
Sonrisa and Grin both receive the Thai adornments for boat craft, rumored to bring protection and good luck to us and honor to Buddha and the Deities of wind and sea. Grin is very hopeful this manifest his Piece of Eight. We ceremoniously install each of their gifts at their respective bow.
Finally, it’s Andrew’s turn. We’ve all been rather curious about the arrangement Santa has laid out on Andrew’s side of the salon. Perched in the corner is that cumbersome and annoying guitar case. Andrew unlatches the hooks and peeks inside. No guitar?
“What the heck?” Andrew reaches in and pulls out a box of thin mints (a Christmas tradition for him), and an envelope. He opens it, reads it, then shoots off his patented “What in THE hell” Grimace.
“What? What is it?!”
I stifle a laugh. “Well, you better not pout! Or next year, you will get coal.” Andrew sighs and shapes up. He knows this is a true risk, as he witnessed one year in which my father engaged in Grinch-like behavior and was rewarded the next year with a bag full of coal in his sock. You do not want this to happen to you.
“Is that everything?” I asked. I thought I glanced another gift tucked into the top shelf of the guitar case. Andrew opens the hatch again and finds a strange shaped cloth object that looks like it could hit a gong. “What is that? Is something you play the bongos with?”
Andrew opens the envelope that goes with it: “Good for 10 Free Thai Hot Herbal Ball Massages.” He looks at the Bong-er again and opens the plastic around it. We sniff. It is packed with nice smelling herbs and an instruction book on how to steam it to make it hot and pat-pat-pat your back with it.
Andrew looks slightly less perturbed as he opens a little hatch in the center of the guitar case. Another envelope is perched in the container.
“Just kidding,” It reads.
Oh, that funny Santa! When Andrew opens the “just kidding” envelope, he finds a coupon for swimming gear of his choice, to be picked up at the local scuba store.
Way to go, Santa. I knew we toted that guitar case half way round the world for a good reason: to use as wrapping paper!
We tidy up, and get ready for Christmas Day Festivities. Indeed, my brunch has gone by the wayside, but a handful of friends (including Tiny Tim sailors) are coming over for Christmas morning cookies and Irish Coffees before we all head over to the beach for lunch. Andrew makes us tropical fruit salads, then whips the cream with our special Tahitian Vanilla. He scoops eight tablespoons of sugar into eight mugs, pours eight shots of Jamison Irish Whiskey, eight cups of steaming hot, freshly ground, freshly pressed coffee into eight mugs, then tops each of them with fluffy cream. I set out the rest of the cookies Santa did not eat on a plate.
Everyone is in a jolly mood, Santa Hats, silver tinfoil hair, brightly colored earrings, and beach wear finery. The sun is out, and it sparkles across a now full anchorage. When it is time, we all load into our dinghies and head to shore where we are served a most delicious Thai buffet lunch. One of the sailors breaks out his accordion, and soon we have a Jingle Bells singalong.
When what to our wondering eyes appear? A young Italian man on his honeymoon who just happens to be some kind of musical prodigy who can sing opera, play the accordion like a champ, and play the piano behind his back. He also happens to be in the mood to play for us, and suddenly, we all find ourselves in the most unlikely of scenarios.
Just when I think I’ve had a wonderful Christmas time, and I’m ready to wrap up and snuggle on Sonrisa’s bench while watching A Christmas Story, we are invited over to S/V Steel Sapphire (one of our Christmas Eve Guests aboard Sonrisa) to continue the merry-making and eat dinner. Somehow, they even found a Christmas Turkey! We grab a bottle of wine and happily accept.
As I stuff myself full on Christmas dinner, I marvel a little over how this year’s Christmas celebrations turned out. Just a few days ago, I felt afraid and a bit sad that my Christmas wouldn’t be as I usually know it. I can hear my mother bellowing the “Tradition Song” from Fiddler on the Roof, right now. My family and I - we are Christmas People. Christmas is the Apex of our passion for over-doing holidays of all sorts. I felt self doubt: how can Andrew and I possibly make enough “Merry” that this year would not fade away poorly capped off and unnoticed? Of course, these fears were always unfounded. The lesson I’ve learned over and over again is: if you do the work, prepare the meal, bring a festive heart, do what it takes on your end to create the circumstances necessary to set the conditions for whatever it is you want to happen - it is only then that “magic” (in this case Santa!) can fill in the gaps. I didn’t know who might eat our Christmas Feast. It could have been just Andrew and me (more leftovers for me!), but feast we would, no matter what. And soon, those places were filled. Sonrisa was as warm and cheery and as stocked with friendship as she has ever been. Had I crumbled to the sadness that threatened me a few days ago, I may have set aside the cookies and the Mini Pies - no one is coming anyway, right? And, then I would have been right. There would be nothing to which anyone could come. It takes a measure of faith in Life to jump the old hurdle of “why bother” and build anything.
I hope all of you enjoyed your holidays. I hope you made your own heart festive and I hope Santa added a dusting of magic and fun. I also hope you forever defend the principles you stand for, I know I will.
Two words: Mini Pies.