As a child, I vividly remember getting a knock at the door, only to open it and see a bag full of goodies and, when we ran outside, to see who delivered it, all we heard in the distance was the sound of jingling bells. To this day, my parents still claim they, nor the neighbors, had anything to do with that bag of toys :)
The stockings...oh the stockings. Once all of the presents were opened, we'd all settle in to open our stockings. This was my favorite part of Christmas morning and something that, to this day, I still look forward to.
As time has gone by new memories and traditions have formed. I got older and began to appreciate new things - like the annual charity Christmas party my family used to host when all of us were more centrally located. This was such a great party! We'd have amazing food, do a Chinese raffle, I'd sell raffle tickets in my crazy Christmas hats, the kids would get a visit from Santa and it wouldn't be a party without Gramps getting out on the dance floor and doing some ballrooms moves with the kids. This was a special event, not only because it brought together all our family and closest friends, but all proceeds went to a family in need. It was an amazing experience that, at a young age, helped lay the roots for the person I am today.
More traditions that hold a special place in my heart are our Christmas morning Dirty Santa gift exchanges and watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation at least once, but usually twice (that and A Christmas Story are by far the best holiday movies in my opinion).
The holiday season brings Christmas music and those that know me well know that, if I had it my way, I'd be listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. But once Thanksgiving passes, watch out and be prepared, because this is all I will listen to. There was a time in my life when I would even work out to Christmas music... yes, that's right. You'd be surprised how well Mannheim Steamroller can motivate you when you're doing front squats :)
Now, the holidays are a time for new traditions with our amazing friends and being with those that you love the most. It really isn't about the gifts or the fanfare. We've actually gotten away from a lot of the "giving gifts, just to give gifts"... Sure the little ones still get a gift or two and immediate family will usually get a little something, but I struggle with giving gifts just to give a gift. We have so much already, we don't "need" for anything - instead fund a water project or give to a local food pantry. According to the National Retail Federation, it is estimated that over $602.1 billion will be spent on holiday gifts and goodies this year. In 2012, holiday sales racked an astounding $579.5 billion. Can you imagine what we could do with that money if, just for one year, Americans donated all that money to a good cause???
This being our fourth Christmas living aboard, I can tell you that Christmas on the boat is magical. Not sure why. Perhaps it's the smaller space - everything is softly illuminated and cozy. I've always loved white lights, I think there is something so peaceful and soothing about them. So, down below we have lots of white lights and, since we obviously don't have the room for a large tree, we've got our authentic Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Each year we add an ornament and I think we just might have enough branches left to last us through our upcoming cruise. We've already discussed it, and the tree will be one of the few holiday decor items we bring with us when we go.
|Our trawler lamp makes it extra toasty!!|
|And the stockings were hung with care...|
|Authentic Charlie Brown Christmas Tree|
So, while life here is still insane (it's finals week and J and I are both swamped with schoolwork), we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This weekend marks the end of the semester so hopefully next week we'll be able to find some time to stop and smell the mistletoe or sip some eggnog or some other warm adult beverage (hot buttered rum?) by the trawler lantern fire.