A three-quarter moon floats above the bay, keeping watch as small waves fold themselves along the shoreline. It was Christmas morning, 75 degrees; just a hint of Caribbean breeze wafts into the room.
Last night we watched the Christmas Eve sunset, a blazing orange ornament that slipped into the sea. It belied the feel of season. A fully-lit cruise ship crept toward the horizon, with no hope of catching up. It was a surreal evening after a long day of travel from Colorado.
I was the first one out of bed, something of an anomaly. Here at the resort, Christmas morning may have appeared rather normal. The guests and staff might’ve seen a jolly old fat guy jog past their rooms and work stations. My twenty-five minute jaunt toured the grounds, then out past the gate and onto the road leading to the port town of Phillipsburg. I paused for a quick, self-guided tour of the shops and casino of a nearby resort, before heading back up the hill and down again to our home for the week.
It was time to settle in to the Island’s pace of life—Christmas notwithstanding. The American dollar is certainly the local mainstay. At the entrance to our resort, I noticed an American flag waving in the warm morning breeze, next to the St. Martin flag. The Stars and Stripes seemed out of place, no disrespect intended. Maybe the weather and locale lent a “Twilight Zone” feel to Christmas on the Island, influencing my thoughts and experiences.
Smitten with floating dreams of freedom, I watched a small sailboat (only three masts) work its way out of the bay, toward a destination unknown. It is a way of life that I, too, find necessary. Traveling uncharted waters, I “sailed” my way with pen and paper, observing and expressing my thoughts, free from grammar and punctuation rules.
It’s easy to reflect on the absurdity of what tourism brings to the Island and its people. I knew nothing of what had been here before. Nor can I even fathom a guess as to how the Islander’s lives would’ve been if the Europeans hadn’t arrived. I found it crazy, seeing a resort employee sweeping sand off the lounge chairs on this Christmas morning. I understood that my being here was part of the reason why he was here, too.
I would’ve preferred to have given him $50 and sent him home to his family to spend this holiday, with them. I caught myself and laughed at my self-centered egoism, thinking that I would be “improving” his day by doing so. I had no right to believe I had that much “power” over his life. Instead, I greeted him with kindness, respect and a Merry Christmas and then moved on my way.
Regardless of personal standing, location or historical background, we are, with certainty, all in this together, whether we realize and/or accept this fact. The sooner we do the better off our earthly home, will be. Then every day will be like Christmas morning, whether snow bound or beachfront.