Saturday, December 23, 2006

South Lake to Alligator River, NC

22.3 nm
Wind: SW 10-15 knots, building to 20
Seas: One foot
Maximum speed: 7.0 knots
Average speed: 4.3 knots
Latitude: 35°39.91’N
Longitude: 076°01.87’W

I was wrong yesterday. I need Christmas. It’s beginning to get to me, my forced cheer. I miss my family. They’re all together now, in Michigan, and there’ll be snow and presents and Christmas lights and trees and turkey and my grandmother’s famous cranberry relish (that I don’t particularly like) and pies and stuffing and more food than any human being could possibly eat. We don’t have any Christmas music on the boat, not even one lonely Christmas decoration, and I think this will be the first Christmas ever that I don’t even have a single present to open, unless Karl has a surprise in store, and Karl hates surprises.

Karl also hates Christmas. He loves Thanksgiving, but he thinks Christmas is all about buying cheap plastic crap at Wal-mart. To be fair, the holiday has been stolen, to a large degree, by commercial interests. But I still long for the childlike wonder of it. That feeling, on Christmas morning, when you race downstairs to see what was in your stocking.

I grew up in the tropics, and we never had snow, or big family gatherings, or mistletoe or fires or any of that other Christmas stuff. But even the years we went to the beach, or had shishkabobs on the barbecue, Christmas was undeniably special. A day like no other during the year. I fear our Christmas will be anything but.

I have to haul out the turkey, which we’ve been keeping on ice for ten days, pray it’s not rotten, and find something to stuff it with. We’ll have potatoes and vegetables, and I’m sure it will be delicious, but it won’t be that much different from any other dinner on the boat, aside from the amount of work. Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, I have to do the dishes and clean the floor and bleach the mildew and do all the other things that have to be done to keep the boat in one piece. It’s going to be a day like any other day. Even the heat, which is wonderful, is my enemy right now. I miss those crisp Chicago nights, walking back to the train station past the lit-up Marshall Field’s windows in my Icelandic wool jacket from 1973, when the whole world seemed to scream Christmas. Today the sun beat down all day. It was beautiful, but nothing like winter.

We even stopped to get diesel today at Alligator River Marina, and they were closed. A guy came out and offered to open up the pump for us, and as he did so, Karl and I wondered to ourselves why were they closed? It was two in the afternoon—too early to be closed for the day. Closed for the winter? But Marcel and Lise left us a message that said they were open two days ago. We didn’t get it. Until the guy explained that they were closed for Christmas, the idea never even occurred to us. The lady at the counter rolled her eyes at me when I tried to apologize. I’m sure I had dragged her away from a real Christmas, with family and food and celebrating.

We’re just poor, pitiful, yule-less lost souls.

No comments: