Holidays Away From Home

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I know the holidays can stir up different emotions for everyone. For some people it’s the happiest time of the year, while for others it can be the most painful and depressing. For me though, the holidays have always meant tradition and family time.

I come from a large family, my mom is one of seven children and my father is one of five, so growing up I was always surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and close family friends around this time of year. Yes, presents we a part of it as well, but it was more about the traditions and rituals we had as a family that made our time together so special.


We generally always had at least two big thanksgiving meals, one with the extended family and one at home. We always had the same traditional dishes, the tables were set beautifully and I can play out exactly how Thanksgiving days usually played out in my mind.

Christmas on the other hand was serious business! Lights and decorations always went up a month early. My sister began playing Christmas carols as soon as we’d let her, mom would bake an ungodly amount of holiday treats, and dad always complained about putting the lights up. We had a myriad of traditions leading up to Christmas Day, but the morning of was always my favorite. My sister and I would pile into my parents bed to wake them up and to open our stockings from “Santa”. Even after I got married, we continued this tradition with Josh. We’d arrive early in the morning or spend the night and somehow all cram onto one queen size bed, sleepy eyed and so ready for coffee, but tradition first…


Once our stockings were opened, all of us would head out to the kitchen to pour ourselves a big cup of coffee to sip on while we waited eagerly to open our presents, except for my dad that always had this weird tradition of taking an extra long shower while we waited, especially when we were kids. It was torturous, and the anticipation built as we waited for him to arrive in the family room so we could begin to open our gifts. The rest of the day was usually broken up my massive amounts of food. Mom makes a big breakfast and homemade cinnamon rolls and friends stop by through out the day. 

As the years have gone by, the holidays were always this thing I could depend on. No matter how much in life had changed, we always had our family traditions. I always felt loved, surrounded by the most important people in my life and safe. But the last few years haven’t quite been the same as we’ve been cruising. We’ve missed the last few Thanksgivings, Christmas’s and New Years, and we’ve had to find ways to make them special as we are away from the ones we love most.

Josh and I have started new traditions of our own and we’ve spent time with fellow cruisers making special memories.

Cooking up the turkeys in banana leaves in a hot pit.

Cooking up the turkeys in banana leaves in a hot pit.


This last season we spent the holidays in Panama and in between cruising around the local islands, we’d head back to the marina for the main holidays to spend a few days with our friends and fellow cruisers. We had a massive potluck on Thanksgiving, and sure the turkey was carved next to the toilet in the employees lounge because it was raining, but it was still it was a unique and memorable day…

We had a hodgepodge of food, drink and conversation. Some people brought chips and canned cheese dip, where others brought more traditional items like stuffing, gravy and green beans. It wasn’t as classy or organized as Thanksgivings back at home, but we were thankful to share this day with some many like minded people who had all chosen to leave their homes to explore the world.


Christmas though has become special to me in a new way these last few years. Decorating our floating home and spending time with Josh, creating our own traditions has been really fun. We wrap our compression post with garland and lights, ornaments and shells. We cook up a massive breakfast with bacon and we drink champagne.

The last two years we’ve been able to spend Christmas day with our friends on S/V Halcyon, and Becca continues her family’s tradition of making beignets. This year she made them from scratch and invited fellow cruisers over to enjoy these hot and tasty treats. They were so good, people were climbing in through the hatches to get some!


Even though these last few years of spending the holidays away from home have been hard, I’m so thankful for modern technology, like FaceTime to call and still have my family be part of our day. I can’t imaging how hard it must have been for cruisers in the past not being able to communicate with their loved ones as easily.

Like everything in life, everything changes…. New traditions and rituals have been created and are becoming special to us.

Our cruising community has become like an extended family. In this community of globe wanderers and sailors, it’s amazing to see just how open, generous and helpful this group of people are. It doesn’t matter long you’ve know each other or what we’ve might have had in common back during our “land lives”, most cruisers will welcome each other into their floating homes the very same night they meet. We share stories and adventures like life long friends. We don’t ever say goodbye, just see you again soon!

It’s a very special community of people that has taught me much about moving through life with open hands and heart, and I look forward to creating many more unique and special memories with these people.