a caribbean christmas

steel drum christmas tunes, santa hats on sun-kissed bodies, hugging strangers like they're family, and sea-themed ornaments on skinny palm trees. 

christmas time in the caribbean always feels really surreal.

last christmas was my first away from family. the string lights on palm trees and shirtless santas just didn't cut it for me at first. but then, the love of friends brought about the best christmas i could have imagined. 

this year, i got to the island about a week before christmas. yacht haven already had its big christmas tree set up in front of those million-dollar sunsets. the sailboats had already shown their lights in the parade along the waterfront. my captain's wife baked cookies the moment she heard of my return. callie and i went out to their catamaran and talked over jimmy buffet christmas music. and amber ate half of the cookies my captain's wife made me, because she couldn't wait for the girls to be done with their gingerbread house (she was asking to eat it before they even finished making it). 

on christmas eve, callie and i stayed home in this perfect little place we're house-sitting for the week. it has the most beautiful view during the day and the most delicious winter winds by night. we watched captain ron and it's a wonderful life, because both felt required for this time and place. callie made stir fry from the fresh veggies on the balcony. and we drank red wine and talked all night about the men we've loved. 

on christmas, we worked from sunrise to way past sundown. i worked two snorkel trips and one sunset trip on castaway, but at least i had my amber with me :) she wore reindeer antlers and convinced most our guests to take pictures with them (and a bottle of rum!). i said some form of "merry christmas" to everyone who came on board---not because i'm particularly fond of the holiday or particularly sad about not celebrating it properly, but because i wanted everyone on my boat to be as happy as humanly possible. so i helped them and served them and really got to know them and loved them enough to hug a good majority of them at the end of each trip. because loving strangers like family on a day when family matters most... that's maybe one of my favorite feelings in the world. 

i hope you all had a lovely holiday. i hope your hearts were filled with cheer, regardless of where you were or who you were with! :)