So, what could be more fun than Christmas with kids who are still young enough to believe in Santa Claus?
Nothing, I warrant. I just totally love it.
This year, though, there's a kicker. We find ourselves sitting in the Gambier, looking ahead at the 3,900 nautical mile passage (by the great circle route, which is the shortest route, of course) that will take us on to Chile.
We'll be ready to leave…soon. The boat is in quite good nick (touch wood!). I just have to...finish…up…a…few…more…science…tasks…before…we…can…leave. It is always thus, lately.
The weather is looking great, with a big stable high sitting between us and South America, all set to give us westerly winds once we get south of it.
The trouble might be that the high is so stable that we might find ourselves waiting around for a change in the weather that will allow us to sail to the other side. December 25th could be suddenly looking close at hand. And Santa hasn't done his shopping yet.
Our first reaction was to do what parents in our culture are meant to do - worry. We have always told the boys that Santa can find us no matter where our boat is. So it wouldn't do to have Santa short on gifts.
But on reflection, we think that things will work out. We have a couple of gifts that were meant for birthdays but were held back because the pile of loot was too big for a kid living on a boat (in Elias' case) or because the birthday boy had been having behavioral problems that we weren't going to compound with over-giving (in Eric's). And we've got a few chocolates and bouncy-balls from the magasin in Ra'ivavae, and Alisa is going to print up a collage of all of the pictures of Elias catching fish that we took this last year, and she will make Eric a dream-catcher (he's been prone to getting up in the middle of the night lately), and…what more could you want?
The boys will be totally happy, wherever Christmas might find us - especially since Alisa has a knack for baking treats to make any holiday special.
I have heard enough heart-warming tales of the benefits of raising kids afloat to be a little cynical about the whole thing, and I realize that it's impossible, and unwise, to try to raise your kids cut off from the larger world. But it is true that raising the boys on the boat has in some ways given them an extremely traditional upbringing, at least in terms of how close they are to us, and how insulated from materialism.
But, more than anything about child rearing, I think that this episode of planning for Santa-at-sea has underscored the real lesson of the life afloat. Which is that so many things are a problem only if you decide they are.