They also are the religious and civil observances, the gatherings of family and friends, that sailors often miss while at sea.
After two consecutive Thanksgivings and Easters underway, countless birthdays and a couple of anniversaries, this was the year I was supposed to be on the boat for Christmas.
Some last-minute shuffling at the office moved Tuesday crew changes to Monday, and Wednesday crew changes to Thursday, and me to a different boat this hitch.
We planned Christmas based on my previous schedule and celebrated with the family this past weekend.
It actually worked-out better for getting folks together, and I'll never be ungrateful for a few extra days at home.
My buddy over at New England Waterman posted a brilliant, literary post on Christmas at sea. Check it out when you get a chance.
Meanwhile, I fooled around with an homage to a Christmas classic. It still could use some work, but here's where it stands on Christmas day:
'Twas the night before crew change, when all through the house
Clothing and gadgets and books bewilder my spouse.
The bags still empty soon will be stuffed to the gills
The children were nestled all snug in their beds
I crept 'round the toys and kissed their sweet heads.
And mama at the Keurig hands me a cup
While I carry my bags out and load them all up.
The truck is all fueled and I guess I am too
It's time to get going, to get away from this zoo!
Like the cat at the door, I can't quite decide
If I want to be on the in or the outside.
On the boat I am missing the joys of my home
The children, the wife, the time spent alone
Little things too, like a walk on dry land
And a pint of dark stout, snug in my hand
At home I am wond’ring how is the crew,
Are the seas heaped-up high, the wind blowing too?
Is the AIS working, is the new anchor on board,
Did the oil get changed, or was it ignored?
No matter right now; I’ll know soon enough
Here in the driveway I think: do I have all my stuff?
I check the list in my head for the very last time
And hold my wife in my arms as the midnight clock chimes
Pulling out of the ‘hood I settle in for the drive
I don’t need to go fast, I just need to get there alive
Down Seventy-One to Interstate Ten
Five hours through Texas, five more through Lousiane
Now Bastrop! Columbus! Now Sealy, now H-town too!
Come Beaumont! the border, Jennings, and Cajun country true!
Past the edge of my state, into the deep south!
I retool my vocab, put some drawl in my mouth!
As the sky becomes bright I stop for gas and some joe
Rough men throng the counter in fire-proof clothes
At last at the office, I greet shipmates and staff
As I load-up the crew truck we gossip and laugh
Meanwhile back at the house the tree’s all aglitter.
The children race between gifts in a gift paper litter.
Mama sips at her coffee, then turns to her phone.
“Merry Christmas my love, can’t wait ‘til your home.”
One advantage to going to a different boat this hitch is that I'll be back in Port Fourchon, and in fact I'll be working from a dock just across the slip from the boat New England Waterman is on.
He reports that the cabin of the boat I'm going to is in a state of undress and suggests I bring some painting clothes.
No problem. And I will do my very best, these coming weeks, to avoid any more holidays.