Christmas Day, a new way

It was a warm, beautiful Christmas day here in Grand Cayman. NS' family (Mom, Dad, and sister AS) were sweet enough to make the trip from bitter cold Pennsylvania to our 85-degree island. I'll readily admit, I'd prefer a snowy Christmas in the proper Northeast setting, but since PA had yielded frigid temperatures and no precipitation, I think we chose the best scenario this year.

I'm not one to sleep in (ever) - certainly not on Christmas - so before we had wasted too much sunshine, I had the tree on, the table set, and the pancakes and bacon cooking. My mom has hosted Christmas brunch for the past few years, and I just couldn't miss it, despite being many miles away.

The photo in the center is one of my parents - of course they were a part of the day!
While I cooked, I played my favorite Christmas tunes - Nat King Cole (thanks for the timely download, NS!), Bing Crosby, and Vince Guaraldi. They almost bring tears to my eyes, I love them so much. (Okay, they do bring tears to my eyes.)

Cinnamon-Oat Pancakes - my favorite
I love this next series: NS put the camera on a tripod and (unbeknown to Mom and Dad) set the camera to take a series of ten quick shots.  In the upper right-hand photo, Dad is lifting the maple syrup bottle, saying, "Cheers!"  The photo below it shows what the rest of us did for the remainder of the series.

Then came present time. This year, both sides of the family decided to keep gifts to a relative minimum, since shipping to and from Grand Cayman is an expensive hassle.  For the most part, we are all going to spend money on each other when we see each other (dolphin swims, scuba diving, nice dinners on the island, etc.) However, the moms didn't want us (mainly me) to go without unwrapping something, since I am such a little child when it comes to presents.  See my present face? Does it look familiar?

I'm lucky to have this man's genes.
We tried to Skype during the whole gift process with my family, but our internet connection was behaving so badly that we guessed that others in our complex had the same idea and were using up bandwidth. Boo. Had it worked, my brother had set up not one but two webcam laptops in the living room at home so we'd have a full view of my family's Christmas. Maybe we'll try that for someone's birthday that does not coincide with a major holiday.

Here are a few great gifts from Christmas '10:

  • Mom and Dad S gave me a Garmin running watch! This thing can schedule your run, track your run, map your run, and alert you to run faster during your run, as well as about 1000 other things. Speaking of running, I just got an email from the Cayman Islands Marathon coordinator that registration for the 2011 event on December 4th has opened up! A registration discount applies from now through 12/31/10 - sign up and get out there!
  • Mom P gave me my first new apron since getting married - so pretty! It came in handy during Christmas dinner.
  • Grandma sent down a hand-painted seashell dish, which is just as likely to hold my favorite jewelry as it is to hold party nibbles. Grandma spends the entire year preparing ceramics for all of us, so I'm always excited to unwrap her latest creation.

I love how zoned out NS already appears.
And from my dear sister, ADP - a framed photo of my family. Now their friendly faces are hanging out with us in the living room every day.

My mom and Grandma sent down Christmas cards with their gifts, and Mom went so far as to decorate the envelope with Peanuts Christmas comics from the December newspapers. All that work didn't go to waste! I decided to decorate my tree - the one I "purchased" (for free) a couple days before - with all the random Christmas paraphernalia I had accumulated during the holiday week.

My special tree includes cards, tags, sunglasses, a stocking,
a Reese's candy cane, and one cute little snowflake.
Later on, we strolled along the beach near our house - actually, along Barkers, where NS has been taking kitesurfing lessons.

No white Christmas in the traditional sense, I'm afraid, but we did bury our toes into the white sand...

Oh my. The view as we left. This can't be real.
Here are N&A hanging out on our dock, shortly before finding out from a neighbor that a moray eel lives under there. Now that would be a fun snorkeling story! Oh wait; we've already covered that.

Mom and Dad observing from the safety of the beach.
Later, we three girls put to work our combined domestic prowess and prepared Christmas dinner: Rib-eye roast, sautéed carrots with thyme, green bean casserole, vanilla sweet potatoes, and (of course) mashed potatoes. No one went hungry.

So Christmas was a success. I've now hosted two major holidays. I've survived my first Christmas away from my immediate family. I've made non-traditional food (no turkey for Christmas!) on the backdrop of non-conventional decorations. The structure and comfort I experienced in the States has been challenged and stretched. Sometimes traditions don't work out. Sometimes you have to go to Plan B. That's when you make up something new: White sand replacing white (or no) snow, island activities instead of wrapped gifts, and quality time with a few dear family members instead of brief hellos with a multitude of friends. With a little creativity, every holiday can be special.

But just for the record, there is no place like home for the holidays.


  1. looks like a great celebration! love the detail shots at the beginning. i'm looking forward to being back in tank-top weather! miss you guys!

  2. Aww! What a great blog post! Love all the pictures - you are quite the photographer AND writer, Jenn! Looks like you guys had a great Christmas :) I'm glad! Oh, and I love the color of shirt you are wearing! Such a striking color on you!