So how do you spend your first Christmas on a rock? Well, because islands are tourist destinations, Christmas is like Thanksgiving, which is like September 15th, which is like March 27th. Visitors come in every day, and in fact, more of them come at the holidays. Since my husband works in the hospitality industry here in St John USVI, he spent Christmas Eve at work, and he’s working today.
Since I haven’t found the right island job for me, I am in charge of making things merry at our house with our two island pups. I awoke to find our bigger dog in bed with me, which has never happened and is technically “not allowed.” But since we have uprooted their lives and brought them to the tropics, I figure I have to make some exceptions. Plus, it is actually comfortable, maybe even a little chilly this morning, so that calls for a celebration. I snuggled up with Logan for a little while before getting up and making my coffee and feeding the boys their breakfast.
My dad was the first to call and wish me a Merry Christmas from the states. The good news is, he will be here in five days and all of my clothes that I left behind are at his house. So, needless to say, I requested reminder pictures via text so that I can select some garments to help spruce up my island wardrobe a bit. After getting his texts, a funny thing happened.
As excited as I was to reconnect with my beautiful clothes, I decided I really don’t need any any of them here. After reminiscing about times spent in those clothes, I find myself contemplating what we are doing on this rock, away from all of our friends and family. This is the first time in my life that I’ve been away from home at the holidays. It’s the first Christmas I haven’t run around frantically buying gifts at the last minute. It’s the first year I haven’t been stuck in traffic trying to get in and out of the mall. And it’s the first Christmas I’ve spent looking at turquoise waters and white sandy beaches and truly appreciating the gifts from above.
Though I haven’t found my perfect island job on St. John, we have found an island church called Freshwater, and we had the opportunity to volunteer last night with fellow church members passing out goody bags to all of the children who came to see Santa. It was such a special night.
Before we went to see the festivities with Santa, we had dinner with our sweet and generous island besties, Tiffany and Dave. The Lord has richly blessed us this holiday season, because being away from friends and family isn’t easy. Tiff and Dave made our Christmas Eve so special, and I liked Italian dining for a change!
Now, I’m off to the beach with my aforementioned island friends. Since Jesus truly is the reason for the season, and since we are not celebrating with gifts or typical holiday hoopla, Shaun and I can happily spend tomorrow, his day off, reflecting on the past year and celebrating our own Christmas on St. John, island style. We really can’t keep the days straight anyway, so does it really matter what day it is?
Merry Christmas Everyone! Warm holiday wishes from our family to yours!
Ashley Cates, St. John USVI blogger.