I’m standing on the balcony under the blazing sun, eyeing the morning surroundings through fold-away binoculars, the kind you slip into a pocket of a Tilley travel vest. I see a rush of people hurrying down the gangway. Their journey is interrupted by photographers wanting to take their photo with a pretend pirate, wearing a pretend eye-patch and a pretend prosthetic hook for a hand. They oblige and continue on their way once the photo is snapped.
In the distance I spot a tall Christmas tree glistening in the morning sun. Gold-coloured tinsel and large, green, red, and yellow balls sparkle on its branches. Next to the tree, sitting on a low-lying wall, is Santa Claus. Say what? Santa Claus? Here? It’s 26 Celsius (80 Fahrenheit). I’m on a cruise in the Caribbean, and we’re docked on the island of Saint-Martin.
When you come from a climate that celebrates Christmas with tuques, shovels and long-johns, Santa Claus, nutcrackers and carols just don’t seem to fit together. It’s... well... weird. It’s also a novelty.
“Check it out,” I say to my husband, bemused. “There’s a Santa Claus out there. In 80 degree weather. A Santa Clause!”
“He must be hot,” he says, as he lowers the thermostat in the cabin.
“He must be. There are a lot of women gathered around him taking pictures.” I continue looking through my trusty binoculars. “I need a photo with him too.”
Two hours later, after a leisurely breakfast on a sun-filled deck, with Jose Feliciano wishing us all Feliz Navidad, I check on Santa. He’s still there.
“We should go now,” I say. “How much longer can he sit on that ledge in this heat?” Poor Santa-man, I think. I feel sorry for him. I’m concerned with his dehydration. “I hope someone is giving him water.”
We disembark the ship, pose for the obligatory pretend-pirate photo, and I bee-line it to Caribbean Santa, who, unbelievably, is still perched on the ledge... in 80 degree heat. With camera in hand, I excitedly approach him. Gasp! He’s not real. He’s a fake Santa, blown up like a balloon and screwed to the concrete like a bench to a city sidewalk. A fake Santa. Sheeesh!
Realistically, would Santa Claus actually make it to the Caribbean? I don’t think so. He’d sweat his nuts off in that suit, and besides, I doubt Rudolph, even with his shiny nose, could guide the sleight that far away. So what choice is left but to prop an air-filled Santa on a concrete ledge? The irony in this, is that everyone who gathers around the air-filled Santa does so for the novelty of it. Practically all of my fellow passengers are from northern climates, stocking up on vitamin D for the long winter ahead. The amusement of Santa Claus, Christmas trees and carols piped through loud-speakers in the Caribbean, is something we all share.
“It’s so strange to be wearing shorts and hearing Christmas carols” I hear the woman behind me say. She's right. After all, who's ever heard of a Christmas carol about building sand castles on the beach?
For us northerners, Dreaming of a White Christmas and walking in a Winter Wonderland, is what we do. We also do have Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, because, Baby, It’s Cold Outside. But who cares. It’s nothing a cup of Hot Chocolate can’t fix.
Let it Snow
Let it SnowLet it Snow