The holidays have sure been different this year! Typically, we have a family Christmas with our children and grandchildren , either on Christmas Eve or earlier if we need to take turns with other in-law families. Robert and I typically head to Marathon to be with my Dad and Step-Mom on Christmas Day. This year, none of that was going to happen anyway because of Covid-19. We got to have a zoom musical concert performed by our nieces and Facetime calls with everyone so we got to see their faces. It's not the same though...Missing the hugs, the energy and excitement of the grands and the opportunity for connection. The missing of people is hard. Really hard. Especially hard during t he holidays.
I remember when the children were little and I was divorced and single. Their father and I shared time, and one Christmas, I found myself alone on Christmas Day. The first thing I did was cry, a big old ugly cry! Then, I figured out what I could do instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself. I found an open store and got lots of small containers of hand cream. I wrapped them up and headed off to a nearby nursing home. I asked at the desk if I could visit with any of the residents who hadn't had any family visit that day. The nurse told me about one lady who had been crying on and off all day but wouldn't tell anyone what was wrong.
She was sitting in the corner of the recreation area when I approached. I asked if I could join her and offered her a small package. She said I could and opened the lotion. I asked if it would be OK if I rubbed some of it on her hands and she nodded. As I massaged her hands, she began to silently cry but I didn't stop and didn't say anything to her. All of a sudden, she said, "My daughter died. She can't come to see me because she's dead. She was the only family I had." My heart broke for her. I hadn't yet experienced the death of a child but her pain was just visceral. I hugged her and just held her and let the sobs come. After awhile, her sobs slowed, then stopped. I asked if I could continue the hand massage and as I did, she started telling me so many stories about her daughter. Some of the memories brought a smile and some brought a giggle. The day turned into one of my favorite Christmas memories.
This Christmas, we got to focus on other people in different ways. On Christmas Eve, we provided a feast for Bill and Maryellen, complete with our traditional Lefse, Cream Crab Soup (to replace Lutefisk) and smoked fish and cheeses. We didn't have the makings for Rosettes and Sandbakkels so we replaced them with store bought pizzellas, another cookie with flour, sugar and butter and made with special equipment. We decorated complete with twinkling lights and all wore our light up head bands which brought smiles to adults and children around us alike.
On Christmas Day, Maryellen and Bill prepared a feast for us complete with beautiful decorations and poppers! Bill even agreed to wear matching Christmas shirts to give us a smile. The food was delicious and afterwards we played games and enjoyed each other's company. It was different. And it was wonderful!
Instead of watching the last sunset of 2020 over Boot Key Harbor, we watched it from the ruins of Top of the Rock Bar on Great Harbour Cay. We brought our drinks and snacks and enjoyed our time with Bill and Maryellen. Barbara Holum supplied plenty of lights and sparkles so we no trouble seeing each other in the dark! We got to watch the last moonrise of 2020 from the cockpit of SeaEscape and enjoyed more of our IguanaBahama 2020 signature drink or "go juice" as Robert has started calling it! We actually stayed up way past "Cruiser's Midnight" (9:00PM) but didn't quite make it to 12:00. There were no balls dropping or fireworks anywhere but 2021 came anyway... It was perfect.
My most important lesson I was reminded of this week is, "When in doubt, focus out". When I focus on creating an experience for others, I end up creating magic for myself too. Being both a giver and a receiver of love works for everyone..
All of us have agreed that the things we'll hold onto to remember this Christmas are the cheap little acrylic light up Christmas Trees we found to decorate the boat AND, the hand painted ornament created by a local artist with Bahamian sand and hand painted "SeaEscape and Solveig, 2020". I have a feeling we've created another of my favorite holiday memories....