Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day on the tug

My sister recently asked me, "What's your favorite Christmas memory?" I didn't even have to think. One automatically comes to mind, it has to do with wanting a rifle. Not a real one, I was only 8 or 10 years old for heavens sake.
A toy rifle just like the one "The rifleman" had on his TV series.
I apologize for those of you who weren't born when that TV series was such a hit.
Like that memory, that is so vivid in my mind, when I think of my Christmas memories with me as the parent to young children, (also many years ago) one memory also leaps to mind.

My oldest was about 5 or 6, just the perfect age for appreciating Santa. Christmas morning came and I could hear her stirring in her room. I stayed in bed pretending to be asleep. From where I was positioned, I could see her as she stepped from her room into the hall.
When she stepped into the hall, she just had to look left toward the living room and directly at the Christmas tree.
Like a cat, she tip toed into the hall and glanced at the tree. When she saw the pile of presents Santa left, the surprise and pure joy on her face, is the memory I will always keep. It was priceless. It was what Christmas and the magic of Santa is all about. It was a look I will never be able to adequately describe.
She saw me looking at her, she was so excited, but trying to be quiet, I thought she would jump right out of skin.
"Santa came," she breathlessly said, almost like she didn't believe me when I told her for weeks that Santa's coming.

Christmas day on the boat isn't much different than Christmas day at home.
I'm only kidding. It's way different.

Today at noon, we celebrated on the boat with a big meal. Before that I could see the crew at various times on the phone, talking to their families, their children explaining to them what Santa left them.
Here is Don, our mate, talking to his son on Christmas morning. I could here him saying, "Did Santa give you lots of toys?" I grabbed my camera and took this shot.

Then we had a little gift exchange. The captain gave each of us a really nice pocket knife. It was a really nice gesture. As a crew we all chipped in and had a brass plaque made for our Captain. On it was a detailed etching of our tug boat. In big letters, CAPTAIN OF THE YEAR, followed by all the names of the crew. I think we shook him up a bit.

We then sat down and ate a beautiful meal prepared by various members of the crew.

After that, I checked in with my wife and girls to hear that, indeed, Santa had come again to our house.
Do I wish I was home? Obviously yes, but this isn't meant to be a "poor mark" post. Things could be worse. One of our other company vessels, today, is 340 miles from land heading to Columbia in 15 foot seas. Half that crew is probably sea sick.
I'm anchored in New York, in calm water.
I called my family on Christmas Eve while they celebrated with friends.
I called this morning and talked to each of them. They still get excited at Christmas time.
I'll be talking to them as they sit down to my wifes Christmas dinner tonight.
It could be much worse.
Taking everything into consideration, it's been a pretty good Christmas.


S. Etole said...

Merry Christmas!

Melinda said...

I love that even away from home, you guys pulled together and made this day what it's supposed to be about...connecting with people who matter. And that you were there for each other while you missed your families! Merry Christmas to you and all of the guys on the tug!

Barefoot from Heaven said...

Oh Mark I can so see what you mean with the christmas story. You told it with your heart and it beams of my screen.

I'm gladd you don't feel to sorry for yourself. Be a happy Mark and the days will be filled with warmth.
Happy holidays. Hugs Dagmar

Diahn said...

I'm so glad that you were able to enjoy your Christmas despite being away from your families - sounds like you have some special guys on that tug, as well as some special families back home!

dcpeg said...

It's all about attitude, isn't it! Whining about missing your families just didn't belong on that tug. You all had the spirit and made it work for you. Still, I'm glad cellphones keep you in touch. Hearing a loved one's voice is such a gift in itself! Merry-day-after-Christmas!!

beth said...

did I wish you a merry christmas....I think I did...actually I'm sure I did...but now that I've gotten this far with this comment, I'll wish you a happy new year....

can you remind in a few days that I did that ?

thanks mark, you're the best !

slommler said...

Merry belated Christmas!! Sounds like yours went pretty well, considering. And that is good!
Great pics too!
Happy New Year

Elena said...

Merry Christmas Mark. Loved your story and how you guys pulled together a yummy looking meal. If you look closely you could still see the glimmer of excitement even in the adult men's eyes.

Anonymous said...

I can imagine that it's hard to be away from family at Christmas, but it sounds like your work colleagues came a good second best :-)

have a fantastic new year Mark!

Marilyn said...

So happy to hear you had a good Christmas eventhough you weren't home where your heart was. I do remember the Rifle Man and how all the little boys wanted a rifle just like his.

clairedulalune said...

What a lovely gift to give to your captain! Good times at Christmas on the boat! Happy New year to you Mark!