Tag Archives: Santa

The Traumatic Santa Boat

20 Dec

My sister reminded me of something the other day. Something I’d tried to forget, it was so traumatic. Something which, whenever I’ve thought about it over the years, always made me feel creepy and slightly soiled.

What could be so horrible?

The Santa Boat.

Growing up on Orcas Island, WA, was unique in many ways. One of those ways was that Santa, rather than sliding into town on a sledge as he might here in Minnesota, would sail up to the Orcas Landing in a ship.

Well, a boat. A grubby, frightening boat, filled with terrifying creatures impersonating elves.

What I mean is, Santa came in an old boat and he had pirates and clowns for a crew.

He scared me to death.

The dreadful pirates were gaudy and loud and I have a memory of one of them trying to kiss my friend’s mother.

As everyone knows, clowns are horrible anyway. Add raunchy pirates masquerading as elves and you have one strange tradition. I don’t remember much about Santa himself. I presume he was round and bearded and tattooed. He had to be to fit in with that crew.

Now, in the Santa Boat’s defense, I only attended once (that I remember) and I don’t know if every year was quite as raucous as that one was. Nor am I sure if the tradition continues or if it went the way of most other pirate ships the world over, Somalia excluded.

All I know is that no toy or candy or promise of gifts to be delivered down the chimney on Christmas morning, could induce me to set foot on the Santa Boat ever again.

Anyone else have horrifying Santa memories?

PS – I do know for sure that the Santa Boat still goes to Waldron Island, another island in the San Juans. I sure hope that it’s less frightening for those Waldron kids…


First-Snow Madness

6 Dec

It’s snowing. For the first time this season. I love sitting and watching it come down; watching the white against the evergreens across the field; the way it powders the deck like confectioners’ sugar on gingerbread.

The first snow always means insanity. People forget how to drive and slide into the ditch. The kids dance around like it’s a blizzard. Lucy wants to make a snow angel. In 1 centimeter of snow. (We’re expecting 4 inches, but she can’t wait that long.)

My husband and kids are moving the woodpile into the garage, where the wood will be waiting for us on wicked-cold nights. We light the fire for fun, not for practicality, unlike when I grew up and had to haul in wood several times a week for the woodstove that heated our whole home. And when I say heated, I’m being generous. I could see my breath in the mornings when I woke up, at the far end of the house, though the living room was toasty!

Working together on a snowy day.

My 12 year old just came running in.

“Mom! You’ll never guess what we found in the wood pile!”

“Well, since I can’t guess, then just go ahead and tell me.”

“An Easter egg! And it’s filled with gross candy!”

This is not a huge surprise to me, as ever since we moved out here 6 years ago, it’s become family lore how many eggs are found after the fact. We found one, while hiding this year’s crop, that had been there for five years. How do we know? Because that was the only year some were filled with butterfly erasers.

Okay, Lucy is ready to go out now. Gonna take the camera. Back in a few…


Okay. Back now. Took some good shots. It’s nice when the family can work happily together. We spent the morning in town. Christmas program practice at church (more on that in a future post!) took up most of the time but then we went to do something we had never done before.

(You’re going to keel over when you read what this was. “You’ve never done that before?” You will ask. My simple answer is, “No.” Long story. Suffice it to say that, come the third child, parents mellow. Or, maybe, my husband just forgot that he said years ago that he didn’t want his child to do that and maybe if I’d just done it years before now my two oldest kids wouldn’t have been deprived.)

We took Lucy to see Santa.

The Santa moment.

We tried to go last night, but the line of hot, tired, nervous kids was more than we could take. So we went today instead. Thankfully, it was the same Santa (though in a different location) so Lucy wasn’t traumatized by his sudden change of appearance. He was at my favorite coffee shop today, snoozing in front of the fire. He woke up when he heard kid’s voices. He’s magic that way.

Lucy walked right up to him, her hair a wild mess (as her hair is doomed to be all winter what with the dryness and the stocking caps) and her white, lace collar partially covered in blood from the head-on collision she had with her best pal during program practice.

“Hello there,” Santa said.

Lucy, suddenly shy, said nothing.

Santa said something else at this juncture but I was getting my camera ready and didn’t catch it. He spoke in a low voice, friendly, non-threatening. This is, apparently, Santa’s 26th year of, well, being Santa. He told my friend he’s retiring after this season. “Let someone else have a chance,” he said.

He asked Lucy if she’d like to sit on his lap and she agreed. “You have some nice dimples, I see,” Santa said.

Lucy nodded.

He continued to ask her questions and she began to respond. They spoke for quite some time. At some point in the conversation she told him what she’d like for Christmas. Her answer came as quite a shock to me.

“A bus.”

“A bus?” I asked later. “Really?” My mind racing, I could not, for the life of me, figure out why this was what she asked Santa for.

“Yes,” Lucy said. “A bus. For my Barbies to ride in.”

“Ah. I see,” I said, nodding sagaciously. “Now I understand.”

The cat did not appreciate the snow.

When we got home from seeing Santa (four hot-chocolates poorer), Lucy was still telling Daddy all about her exciting morning, what with a bloody nose at church and Santa and all, when the mail lady drove up. There, on the front cover of the local newspaper, was Santa himself. The very Santa Lucy had just visited with.

“Look, Lucy!” I exclaimed, “It’s Santa!”

In an instant her little head tilted upwards, scanning the skies.

She spoke not a word, but her face said it all: “I believe!”

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