Posted by: yachtcrewsing | December 27, 2011

Christmas in Antigua

Four crew from the 200-foot motor yacht across from us struggle to lift a massive, albeit bedraggled, evergreen up their passarelle and onto the aft deck in the blistering heat. Doubtless, this has been flown over from Scandinavia at enormous expense. In town, the sound of Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ wafts from an open-air bar. The cashier at the town supermarket wipes sweat from her forehead as she rings up Christmas cards emblazoned with images of bundled-up children building snowmen.

Christmas in the islands just seems to be a hoax. The loyal Canadian in me says: ‘it can’t REALLY be Christmas without cold or snow.’

The inside of our boat is bedecked with fake wreathes and Christmas trees, falsified memories of a time and place seemingly long gone. Three consecutive Christmases away from home is starting to take its toll on me.

Despite my misgivings regarding the legitimacy of Christmas (as I narrow-mindedly perceive it) in the islands, I was willing to give Antigua a chance. After all, my family had flown over to spend the holidays with me, so one vital facet of Christmas tradition was still intact.

I woke up on the morning of December 25th in a king sized bed, showered in the exotic rocky outdoor shower, and then walked out onto the balcony to find my parents sitting in the outdoor sitting room enjoying the sun rising over Galleon Bay. Not bad, I began to capitulate… This was shaping up to be a pretty wonderful day.

It was at this point that I began to understand the holiday difficulties of children with separated parents; I had obligations to both my biological and my boat family. After tea at my parents’ rental villa, I went back to the yacht to open Secret Santa gifts, stockings, and lovely presents from our boss (beautiful cashmere scarfs for the girls, and video/camera devices for the boys). The cessation of gift-giving signaled the commencement of a sumptuous brunch prepared by our chef, attended by both friends from other yachts and my family (signaling the pleasant collision of my two universes).

The major social event for the afternoon was the ‘Champagne Brunch’ hosted at the historic Nelson’s Dockyard. Everybody and their neighbor was there- bedecked in Christmas finery, we all drank wine and champagne in the blistering Caribbean sun while jamming to the music of the steel drum bands.

When the senses were sufficiently overwhelmed and our faces were beginning to burn despite SPF 70 sunscreen, we retreated to our villa to watch the sun set over the harbor and have a lovely Christmas dinner with the (biological) family.

I suppose that with all of the positive aspects of celebrating the holidays in Antigua, I can do without snow for one year…

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