The festive season in the Caribbean is uniquely special. First, it’s warm and sunny; sailboats are everywhere and instead of wrapping up against the cold, girls are donning bikinis and jumping into warm, turquoise water. But wherever you are (except in Muslim lands, perhaps) the spirit of Christmas is in the air. It is the time of celebration and indulgence; it is a time of giving and a time of giving thanks.
Perhaps more than anything else Christmas is a time for families because children get so much joy from the mythical Santa Claus, his reindeer and sleigh and his never ending sack of presents. I well remember my eight-year-old brother who was having serious doubts about the authenticity of Santa. In his mind a battle was raging because to deny the existence of Santa meant no stocking full of presents, whereas to accept Santa meant believing in impossible logic. In his bedroom was a chest of drawers shoved up against the fireplace and he was pretty blasé about it until just before bedtime on Christmas Eve. He pleaded with his dad to have it moved so Santa could climb down the chimney and fill the stocking conspicuously pinned to the end of the bed.
Charlie had a similar experience a few years ago. He was captaining a luxury Little Harbor 61 for a family of four from Oxford, Maryland. Charlie had sailed it south from Palm Beach for the owner and the family were arriving in December for the Caribbean festivities over the holidays. The day before Christmas Eve five year old Jeremy had been asking Charlie all about Santa and his reindeer, their names, where they lived in the North Pole and on and on. Then he asked worriedly how Santa’s sleigh could possibly land on the cluttered deck of the boat. Charlie had to think for a minute, “It doesn’t,” said Charlie. “He positions the sleigh above the boat and then parachutes down with his sack on his back. Then he distributes the presents to all the good children who don’t keep asking dumb questions.”
There was no stopping the kid, “How does Santa get back to the sleigh afterwards – he can’t parachute up.”
“Why do you care? You’ve already got your presents,” said Charlie impatiently.
“Well, I was just thinking of my buddy, Michael, over there on Lucky Lady.”
“’Don’t worry, every little t’ing gonna be alright. Santa’ll find a way. But if he doesn’t you’ll just have to share your presents with him.”
Finally Jeremy shut up but after a few moments he piped up again, “I liked the bit about the reindeers and their names. Rudolph the red nose reindeer was the leader of the team and Bruno the brown nose reindeer was just behind him. You said Bruno was just as fast as Rudolph but was not so good at stopping. Great story – I’m going to tell Mum.”
Charlie is contemplating his options in case he needs to find another job.
Merry Christmas and a Rollicking Boxing Day – Charlie.
Oh … and Ol’ Year’s Night too.
Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.