Oh so you don’t have any family to spend the day with?
You have family, but don’t get along with them?
Or is it that you dislike the holidays? Get togethers? Traditions?
Said with pity or concern or confusion or interest or worry. The questions about my Christmas day plans have been steadily increasing. And though it will surely trouble some to hear this, the truth is we’ll be alone. There will be no sitting around the table tearing into a golden roasted turkey or perfectly glazed ham, no egg nog or mistletoe. The day won’t be spent raucously with friends, giggling with sisters or hanging with a rent-a-family. It will be devoid of a tree, twinkling lights, festive carols or shimmery packages.
Instead we’re on our way to a boat ramp right now. Will soon be pushing a trimaran – imagine the love child of a catamaran and a kayak – into warm Floridian waters. Loaded with a book, a slackline, basic provisions, and my favorite sidekick I’ll paddle until we find an island to call our home for the night. Get up on the 25th and paddle some more. Three days and two nights exploring intercoastal waterways. Just a girl, her dog and a little deserted island yuletide celebration.
It’s not because I hate the holidays, feel unhappy, don’t have community or lack any other option. It’s the opposite really.
I’ve a family with bonds deep and true. Who supports me no matter what and has taught me what it means to leave a legacy. I can’t help but smile at each and every Christmas memory. The cacophony of the entire clan of aunts, uncles and cousins under one roof. The buttery homemade buns and the almond sweetness in a tower of kransekage. Receiving a single gift each Christmas eve and excitedly climbing into bed in newly unwrapped matching sister pajamas.
I’ve a friend family who brought me completely into the fold. We melded all of our individual traditions together into one loving celebration. Starting the day off with rice porridge and homemade croissants. Arguing about stockings being first or last in the present lineup. Watching with anticipation as others opened our carefully selected gifts. Spoiling Baylor with cuddles, treats and adoration throughout the day.
I’ve a network of OMD friends across the continent who would happily welcome us into their home. Who have already shown us what it means to turn strangers into friends. Welcomed us into their homes and lives with open arms.
It might seem odd that I choose to set out on my first ever paddle mission today. To climb into a boat that I’ve never even seen before. To paddle with only a vague destination and itinerary. To set up camp in a newfound location. And yet, it’s exactly what I’m doing.
Not in spite of the family, friends, and community, but because of it. Your love makes everyday feel like a special holiday for me. Your support gives me the gumption to go on an adventure, to do things a bit out of the ordinary in search of learning and growth. Your stories inspire me to seek that which brings me joy in an effort to spread that joy far and wide.
And that is the greatest gift I could ever ask for. Thank you.
So rest assured that even though I won’t be celebrating in a traditional fashion the next few days, my heart is full from love and community. My mind happy with all the memories of celebrations past. Of the connections, the smorgasbords, the games, the coordinated outfits and awkward family photos, the stories and the never-ending laughter.
Wishing you all the best. Merry Christmas,
Mallory & Baylor
195 days down. Many to come.