Remember that sickly, sad looking tree Charlie Brown used to get each Christmas? Do you want to know where it is?
It’s on our boat, in the wheelhouse decorated with little lights and ornaments. In the 36 years I’ve worked on boats, it’s safe to say I’ve missed Santa’s arrival at least half the time. That’s ok, it’s part of the deal and we all know it.
On most of the boats I’ve worked on over the Christmas Holiday over the years, it’s usually business as usual. No trees, no lights and certainly no gifts. It’s almost as if we try to ignore it. Like, if we don’t think about, it won’t bother us so much. Denial used to be a lot easier in the days before cell phones. I would call home once week if I was lucky enough to find a working pay phone, and hear about the family’s preparations for Santa. Then I’d get to a pay phone in some other port the next week, and I’d hear the voices of my excited girls, explaining to me what they got for Christmas. The next time I’d call, I’d be told that soon after I get home, we’ll be taking down the tree. Another Christmas come and gone. Anyone can handle that.
But, with the advent of cell phones, it’s different. I talked to my wife 3 times, TODAY, and each time she was in a different store, trying to get her shopping done. Once she was actually IN the dressing room trying on cloths. So, there’s no getting away from it these days. I basically get a play by play.
As far as the boat, I would much rather it but business as usual , but I knew that wouldn’t be the case when, at the airport baggage claim on crew change day, the Captain opened his bag and excitedly said, “Look what I got,” as he held a package of tree ornaments. So much for denial.
The Christmas Season is in the air on the Tug Patriot. The Captain hung his decorations with care. He’s excited. Every time I go in the wheelhouse he’s humming a Christmas Carol. There are five wrapped presents sitting under the tree already. The Chief Mate made Christmas cookies today. I feel at any moment the 2 deckhands could break out in a rendition of “Sisters…Sisters…” from Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.
As the ships and boats pass us by in the river, they can’t help but notice the red lights of our little tree sparkling in the night. I bet it does look cool.
I found myself alone in the wheelhouse the other night. I was looking at the tree. I inched over, pretending I don’t really care, but got closer so I could make sure there was a present there for me. Wew, there is.
I guiltily glanced around to make sure no one was around, and picked up my present, and shook it. Hastily, I put it back down. I’m not sure what it is, but I know it’s not a tie. Too heavy.
Guess I’ll have to wait for Christmas.