Christmas while on the move…Very different…

Colorful trees blooming in the neighborhood.

As we roll into the holiday season, we wish every one of every nationality a happy holiday season for their appropriate holidays throughout the world whatever they may be.

For us, Christmas and New Year’s are the holidays we’ve celebrated all of our lives with a passion for their meaning and for sharing it with our family and friends. Life is different now. 

We don’t have family nearby and for the short time we’ve been in Fiji, we haven’t made many friends as we’d done in  Marloth Park, South Africa during the holidays. 

Access to the Qaraniquo river in the neighborhood.

So easily we recall, only two years ago, the wonderful times we spent during the holidays and after, even spending Christmas Eve at the home of people we’d never met until that night, Kathy and Don, including their friends Linda and Ken all of whom we got together on many other occasions. 

That year on Christmas day we made new friends, Hettie and Piet, when we shared a table at Jabula Lodge later getting together again who continue to warm our hearts with great memories.

There are many more we could name, friends we made in Marloth Park…Okee Dokee, who has married a few days ago, much to our delight. And, Louise and Danie, our hosts during our stay, who will always be in our hearts and minds. And Dawn and Leon, the owners of Jabula who always welcomed us with warmth, hugs, and open arms. 

What’s happened to this tree?  It appears there’s been a human intervention.

We had a going-away party before leaving Marloth Park for the friends who remained in the area into February when on the last day we were heading to Morocco for our remaining two and a half months of living on the African continent.

Making those types of relationships, all of which we happily maintain through Facebook has remained with us as special memories we’ll always treasure. But, many locations don’t provide the unique opportunity to make friends as readily as was the case in Marloth Park.

Then, of course, there are the countless friends we made due to our friendship with Richard while in Kauai.  Although our four-month stay on that exquisite island wasn’t over the holidays, every occasion together with our new friends felt like a holiday to us.

Flowering shrubs line the boulevard.

We’re rather gregarious. We easily reach out to start conversations with others and having done so has left us with valued memories from many cruises throughout the world, one of the main reasons we’ve loved cruising as much as we do.  

Boarding another cruise in Sydney in less than three weeks is exciting knowing how friendly and welcoming the Australian people and other cruisers from all over the world will be in this environment.

Yesterday, Tom received an email from a lovely couple we met on a cruise, simply “stopping by” to say hello.  Each time we hear from people we’ve met along the way, we more thrilled than we can describe.

We’ve never encountered this particular flower.

Of course, we miss family and friends. Yesterday, we spoke with grandson Vincent on his 10th birthday. It was wonderful to hear his voice. It’s always meaningful and emotional to speak with our kids and grandkids. 

When we think it was a year ago that 12 of our family members were with us in Hawaii during the Christmas season, it seems so long ago, and yet, in many ways, as we review the “year-ago photos” it feels as if it was only yesterday.

Now, the holidays? Over these years, we’ve reframed our thinking. The spiritual aspects remains in our hearts and minds. The Christmas tree, the lights, the decorations, the gifts for each other, the baking, the hundreds of mailed cards, the parties…are all things of the past. We don’t miss any of that.

A dock on the river appears to be shared by neighbors.

Always the proverbial host and hostess, we now relish in our quiet times and events we plan for ourselves; a holiday dinner out, a birthday or anniversary celebration…no gifts, no cards…content to be together, content to live this life. 

Selfish? Perhaps. But that’s ok. We all have the right to make choices for our lives. As the clock seems to tick faster now than at any other time in our lives we’ve chosen to “live life on our own terms,” a decision many desire to make but few seldom do, fearing recrimination, criticism, and disdain from loved ones. Fearing guilt.  We bear no guilt for our decisions.

And bless the hearts of those who happily live their lives in loving care and service of the needs of their family members and friends. We lovingly and thoughtfully did that all of our lives with aging parents and other family members who are no longer with us, having passed long before we left.

Its only a short walk from our house to the river.

Our kids are all in their 40’s. They’re all mature and responsible and take good care of their lives and their families.  Although not easy for them, they had to let us go live the dream we never knew we had until after my 25 years of bad health was reversed due to a change of diet and for the first time, I was well enough to travel feeling healthy and strong.

Grab life while you can! It can change on a dime. In one day’s time, something could happen and I’d no longer feel as well as I do today, able to continue on. And the inevitable…old age. Good grief. 

In 26 months I’ll be 70 years old. Tom will be 65. How many 70 year old seniors are hauling their share of baggage, traipsing all over the world without a home base, without storage, with only a few possessions in their current location, without a family doctor, without familiar stopping/resting/repacking points to “call their own” and tackling adventures they never imagined possible?

We’re happy. We’re happy during the holiday season, Christmas and New Year’s, friends at our side or not. All that we have loved, all that we continue to love, and all that we will love in the future is in our hands. 

May your holiday season be filled with happiness and fulfillment in all you chose to embrace.

Photo from one year ago today, December 15, 2014:

The swimming area at Isaac Hale beach which we visited on a sunny day, meeting a delightful woman from Colorado. Kathy was a college professor and moved to the island 13 years ago to lighten the load of a stressful life. She seemed happy and fulfilled. For more details, please click here.

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