*For the holidays…
But on the holidays, where is home when you’re a cruising sailor?
We are back in St. Thomas for the season, enjoying having the cell phone again (note to family and friends, we use EW’s number). EW’s cousin Jeff and his wife Barbara – the first Barbara Hart – live here and we are fortunate to spend the Thanksgiving with them. Other cruising sailors will dine at an excellent local restaurant, still others will gather in the beach pavilion on Water Island, sharing a pot luck Thanksgiving with the island residents.
For the meal at the Hart’s, I will make pecan pie; ahem, I will make EW’s favorite, Texas Bourbon Pecan Pie, and a butternut squash dish that contains nuts and cheese protein for the vegetarian guest. In many ways, this Thanksgiving in a lovely home will be similar to the pot luck Thanksgiving on the beach. The ratio of dirt dwellers to live-aboards will be different, but most everyone is a boater, everyone will bring food to share, and both gatherings are of “families” assembled from folks born all over the US and Canada. Far from our siblings, elderly parents, nieces and nephews, and even adult children and grandchildren, we will still have a lovely day filled with traditions.
That’s how it is with cruising sailors, we may be far from home, but we celebrate with our own traditions. EW must have pecan pie for our Thanksgiving. The year our gimbaled stove dumped one pie, turning my favorite boat slippers into a hot, gooey mess, I woke early on Thanksgiving morning to make another. Other folks must have green bean casserole. I can live without it, but respect the tradition. We cruisers also make new traditions with other sailors. This will be our second Thanksgiving of the year as we’ve already shared Canadian Thanksgiving dinner with over 50 other boaters in Grenada. Each year, on that Monday in October, Clark’s Court Bay Marina offers their kitchen and the cruisers gather to prepare turkey and stuffing, bringing their favorite dishes to share.
As wonderful as this lifestyle is, we’ve given up a lot to live the dream. In our home,we used to host Thanksgiving and I loved that. One year, the old oven gave up the ghost after I had an overflow problem with mom’s raspberry pie. Most of the ten guests had arrived before we realized that the oven wasn’t heating up. No problem, our neighbor had gone to Cape Cod for the holiday, asking us to care for her cats. EW and the men toted the turkey across the street to Lorraine’s house, happily watching football between basting. When I went over to check the progress, I borrowed a few serving items from Lorraine’s kitchen. The following year, she accepted our yearly invite, saying. “ I decided to join my silver and have Thanksgiving with you.”
Above, seated: EW’s sister, Dale, their Mom, my Mom. Standing: EW, my Dad, Dale’s late husband Charles. This photo was most likely our first Thanksgiving in our home – prior to the much needed renovations. At right, my Mom and me on the same day. It was ‘87. We had perms.
While there are cruising sailors with more disposable income than we have, most of us only fly home once every year or two, or for dire emergencies. We’ve given up the ability to share a glass of wine with girlfriends we’ve known forever, seeing the cutest ever new grand-nieces, lending a shoulder that isn’t attached to a SKYPE headset, taking a meal to a loved one that is going through stuff. Nothing can replace any of that, but the experiences we’re having, the new friends we meet, the time together on the boat, and the challenges of this lifestyle are all important enough for us to make this sacrifice – and to ask our friends and family accept it.
While we miss friends and family, we are so fortunate to have met new friends and to have found new interests and new traditions.For the past two years, EW and I have been rewarded by our decision to cruise. We have grown closer as a couple, are more loving and more understanding. We laugh a lot. EW has had the opportunity to pursue his music, and I my writing, in ways that would not be possible back “home”. We have made friends that we will have for life. We have learned how strong we are together. We have discovered how alike we are. We love traveling together. We love this life. La Luna is home, and I am thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
And for your dining pleasure, here are some photos of this year’s Canadian Thanksgiving in Grenada.
I believe these gentlemen were checking out the side dishes in order to prepare their strategy. No one went hungry.
Note the red and white balloons – Canada’s colors, of course!
Carolyn, from P/V Cattitude, was this year’s head Turkey Chef. Check out how she prepared the stuffing. She made up a ginormous batch, gathered them into 65 balls and baked them. Everyone got a stuffing ball. She says she does this at home, too.
When I last heard, Carolyn was home – cleaning up a mess made by Sandy. Go figure. She’s anchored down in the hurricane zone and her home gets damaged in New Jersey. Our hearts go out to her and her neighbors.
One of our dinner partners took the morning net controller’s advice when he suggested we bring “big plates” to the dinner. He opted for a platter.
One of Carolyn’s family traditions is to listen to Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” on Thanksgiving, so she played it over the sound system. This couple had never heard the song. Of course EW and I knew most of the words. (I could never do it on my own, but we kept up with Arlo.) The American’s sang with gusto, while the Canadians and guests from other countries watched with astounded glee. EW and I got a kick out of it.
Here are a few photos of the celebrants.
Below right is Carolyn, Head Chef. Dining with her are Canadian’s Ken and Lynn – Assistant Chefs.
Carolyn’s dog didn’t get to celebrate much. She was thwarted by a small, pink sign.
Poor baby. Too bad she didn’t know that you can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant – excepting Alice.
Hope no one puts a sign on your back this Thanksgiving. Enjoy!