last year my parents decided to try out a destination christmas. they reasoned rachel, grant and i are now old enough to buy our own presents, and there are no grandchildren to be had yet (every time that is mentioned i wonder if it is a hint...), so why not try something new while no one is tied down? last year we all went skiing, which as you may remember was not the best experience ever for me.
this year we decided on a cruise. (warmer region = much more favorable to lyndsey) it was my year to be w/ the fam, and rachel&jesse's year to be with them also. somehow brandon's family ended up in the gang as well and so all eleven of us schlepped it down to long beach last monday to board the carnival paradise cruise ship.
also i must note that this was everyone's present, which means that i had NO christmas shopping to do this year. that was a major plus -- i now understand why jehovah's witnesses are so cheerful in december, because they never worry about this stuff.
however it also gave me some naivete, as i went out shopping to get some new outfits for the cruise on the saturday before christmas and could not believe that it took me 20 min. to find a parking spot on colorado. then i realized it was the SATURDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS. duh. let's just say it was a little crowded...i cut my shopping short and made a consolatory trip to pinkberry before retreating home. rough time.
i had never been on a cruise before and didn't know quite what to expect. but that's not entirely my fault because up until then my frame of reference regarding cruises consisted of poseidon, titanic, highly-publicized pirate attacks and viral disease outbreaks that could wipe out whole ships. all i knew was, if i saw fergie singing in the ballroom i was getting the heck off the boat.
i quickly discovered i had nothing to be afraid of. i was basically boarding a portable resort, quite similar in fact (food, especially) to the types of places i go for work. our room was bigger than expected -- i imagined a cabin like our hotel room in paris, where you couldn't open the bathroom door if another person was standing near the bed; THAT is cramped. cruise cabins are mansions in comparison. we even had portholes to see the ocean.
we participated in the mandatory evacuation drill, which was fun till i thought about all the nasty people who had worn my life jacket before i did. ten years of germs...grossssss.
it really was a relaxing trip, although it was freezing. no laying out for me! i did sit out in the sun one day on the deck with my book, but i was wearing a jacket. the only time i wore a bathing suit was to hop in the hot tub. but that's okay! it's christmas. who needs a tan?
i had been a little worried that the ship wouldn't look christmas-y enough, but carnival definitely delivered in the decoration area.
me & my seesta in the exquisitely-decorated atrium:
i did a lot of reading, a lot of sleeping, a LOT of eating (carnival motto: eat free, eat often). they had 24/7 pizza and ice cream (sadly, my definition of frozen yogurt differs from theirs. yuck) and a so-so buffet area for breakfast and lunch. our dining room was amazing -- breakfasts there were yummy, and dinners were amazing. these chocolate molten lava cakes made the WHOLE trip worth it -- and i've had quite a few chocolate molten lava cakes in my day:
one complaint i do have is their cookies. dry and hard. BOO!!! come on people. store bought is NOT the way to my heart.
we did have plenty of cute little towel creatures left in our room:
...but sadly, no ice sculptures or intricately carved melons. these were both more of my preconceived cruise notions, which unfortunately got shattered. maybe you have to go on the seven-day cruise to get those?
my two favorite nights were a) the formal night and b) christmas dinner. it's always fun to dress up -- behold, exhibit a:
i was a little worried about how christmas would turn out, being away from home (any home) and all. it's not really christmas to me unless i'm in my parent's house, running down the stairs w/ my sibs to see what santa brought. seeing as how that hasn't really happened in, oh, say six years, i guess it makes sense that i'm a little nostalgic for christmases past.
i feel like it's time for b and i to start making our own christmas traditions, which is hard when we're shuttling back and forth between families each year. hopefully expanding our little family will help that out in the future. but for now, i'm still figuring out how to make christmas feel more christmas-y.
being on a tropical cruise definitely made me feel like i was on summer vacation, not christmas break. there were perks, of course. we stopped in mexico on christmas eve and i ate real, authentic, handmade mexican tamales IN mexico. that is cool. (mexico post is forthcoming.) on christmas day, we had a big fancy breakfast and it was so fun to hear a thousand people saying "merry christmas" to each other on the stairs and in the hallways. christmas dinner was fantastic, and the cruise put on a special christmas show that day complete with christmas carols and santa and candy canes. and it was fun to be with my whole family.
but something was sort of still missing. i didn't quite miss all the materialism of christmas, but strangely enough i missed GIVING gifts. i like picking out individual presents for my family and watching them open things. and watching a decidedly non-religious christmas program on christmas day is a little weird. i guess i wanted more time to focus on the birth of christ, which to me is what this holiday is really all about. forget cruises, carols and presents -- my christmas means finding a quiet time to think about the miracle of my savior coming to earth.
and so, because i feel like i still need a little christmas spirit, i will leave you with my favorite christmas scripture from luke, chapter 2:
"and there were in the same country shepherds abiding in their field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
and, lo, the angel of the lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
and the angel said unto them, fear not: for behold, i bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
for unto you is born this day in the city of david a savior, which is christ the lord.
and this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
and suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying,
glory to god in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men."
luke 2: 8-15
merry christmas to all! hope you had a great christmas day.