As the holiday season approaches each year, I wonder aloud to those who will listen: Wouldn’t it be great to combine two of my most favorite things in the world: Christmas and a cruise vacation. From the moment I picked up a copy of John Grisham’s “Skipping Christmas,” at the library, I knew that book was written with specifically me in mind. If you haven’t read the book, or seen its weaker film version (“Christmas with the Kranks”), the story is about a couple that decides one year to forego Christmas altogether and plan a cruise. Ultimately, the whole plan goes up the chimney when their daughter decides to come for a visit over the holidays.
Don’t think for a minute that this intriguing idea hasn’t crossed my mind a few times. I certainly don’t mean to ban decorations and all other holiday things from our midst, as the fictional family had in mind. I greatly enjoy gift giving, holiday music and Christmas decorations, the tree and celebrations with the family. We simply would be absent from the festivities for a week or so in the days surrounding Christmas – the busiest time for meal planning, cooking, baking and clean-up. What if we were to just skip all that and sail away on a cruise ship to a warm, tropical place, where there were no dirty dishes to clean and beds to make? Now that’s what I call a gift!
My husband has always been the traditionalist in our marriage. He believes in family and traditions – the ones we have grown up with and the ones we’vd created for ourselves. Not that I don’t believe in these things. I most certainly do. It is, after all, all about the family. But it still won’t stop me from dreaming about doing something a little different.
I imagine my husband and I having a fun little debate: “Home for the Holidays vs. A Christmas Cruise.” With some key points and arguments, I imagine it would go something like this:
Him: I don’t want to spend my entire school vacation week away from home.
Me: I thought that’s why they called it “vacation” – so you could go away and leave all the work behind.
Him: What about the tree and all the decorations?
Me: Our tree has gone from a rambling 6-foot spruce to 4-foot table twig, and the decorations come out right after Thanksgiving and stay up long past Christmas. The boughs of holly and dancing Santas will still be here when we get home. Besides, wouldn’t it be fun to see a cruise ship decked out in holiday splendor?
Him: My idea of Christmas is spending a relaxing night in front of the fire with Christmas music flowing from the stereo.
Me: No one likes holiday music more than me, keeping it going well into January. Load Mannheim Steamroller and Jazzy Wonderland up on your iPhone, and you’re good to go! Just think, honey - instead of experiencing chestnuts roasting on an open fire, we’ll be two lovebirds roasting in the Caribbean sun - or, better yet, chilling under a shady palm tree!
Him: What about the turkey, ham and mashed potatoes?
Me: I spend the entire Christmas day in the kitchen while you’re lounging in the recliner with your eggnog and newspaper in front of the fire, playing with whatever new electronic gadget Santa left under the tree. I say give me a break, and let’s have someone else cook us a four-course meal and clean up afterwards.
A White Christmas
Him: It won't feel like Christmas without snow.
Me: Even though we live in New England, I can barely count on one hand the number of times we’ve had snow on Christmas in the past 36 years of marriage. Lots of people all over the world celebrate Christmas in warm, tropical places - without a flake. Snow is cold, slippery, a pain to shovel and leads to heart attacks and broken bones. A cruise is pure relaxation and good for the soul.
Gift Giving and Tradition
Him: We need to be home for our traditional Christmas Eve and Christmas Day family gift giving and gatherings.
Me: Our gifts to each other will be the cruise, and we’ll give our gifts to the family when we get back. That way, we’ll have a Christmas after Christmas. Besides, as every devout Christian will tell you, Christmas begins on Christmas Day and doesn’t officially end until the 6th of January; hence, the 12 days of Christmas.
The Religious Meaning
Him: I won't think of missing church services on Christmas Eve.
Me: Did you know that cruise ships have religious services? Yes, they do. So you can celebrate the birth of Christ at sea. Besides, you fall asleep and snore in church.
Him: What about the kids? What will they do?
Her: Let’s see … our oldest has her husband, baby and her own new traditions to begin, and the younger two offspring will get together for Chinese food, video gaming, watch movies, sleep late and miss the holiday anyway. And if they do decide to wake up and partake in some festivities, there are plenty of relatives in a 5-mile radius who would be more than happy to share some holiday joy.
Baby's First Christmas
Him: We have a grandchild now, and it will be his very first Christmas. Why would you want to go away and miss this momentous event?
Me: OK. Good point. No argument there.
So who wins this debate? I do, of course.
Are we cruising this Christmas? Absolutely not! Christmas with our grandson on his very first Christmas trumps a cruise any day!
My dream Christmas at sea will just have to wait until next year's lively debate.
Photo Credit: MSC Cruises USA