Christmas at Sea

It’s Christmas day today. We’re in Falmouth, Jamaica. In the Philippines and other parts of the world Christmas is finished. Still festive spirit is in the air. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. On ships, it’s the merriest and the busiest day of all.  

7 years ago, in this same month I started my career at sea. I joined Pacific Dawn, my very first ship. I remember the scene at the airport just before I left. I was excited to venture into a whole new experience. At the same time, I was nervous having to leave my family behind. But I was determined to do it despite the uncertainty of things to come. I just know that I owe myself to try.

And so I took that flight that brought me to the beautiful land down under. “Australia, here I come!” 

Christmas Down Under

I remember the cold that welcomed me the moment I was out of the airport. It gave me chill that reached the insides of my bones. I felt uneasy. But the moment I saw a glimpse of my ship, I felt safe.

I took my bag out of the shuttle and started pushing it. It was heavy. The people who were travelling with me helped me lift it. The bag was full of clothes, shoes, books, toiletries, electronics and some other important and not so important things. That’s my life in 6 months. My llife in a bag carefully and lovingly packed.

That month of December was probably the hardest month of my ship life. It was the first and I had to learn a lot. It’s not just the job that I had to study but the whole ship itself. I had to learn to properly deal with cruising children and their families. I had to learn to work and live harmoniously with the other workers on the ship who came from different places and countries.

I remember that first Christmas on board when despite the celebration I had to work. I cried quietly as I remember my family and the things we do on Christmas eve. I thought of the merry-making, Pinoy food and giving of gifts. Truly, nothing beats Christmas at home.

I had 5 more Christmases on ships. As the years went by, I found myself gaining more control of what I feel. I cried a little less. I smiled at strangers and laughed more with new found friends. Sometimes I ask myself, “Did I just get used to this?” Well partly maybe. But as a whole I think it’s also me growing up.

Christmas Last Year

Christmas last year was different and so was the New Year a week after. After many years of working on holidays at sea I was home with friends and family.

We had so many plans then but they didn’t happen. Sometimes life just surprises us in times when we least expect it. Sometimes we don’t want the surprise it carries. We found out Mama was sick. We wanted her to rest. Plus we had to budget our money because her medical bills were expensive.

And so my very first Christmas at home after being away for a long time didn’t turn out as how we originally planned. No extravagant gifts. No out of town vacation. We celebrated simply. There were sad thoughts in my head but there was joy in my heart. We had the same wish. We prayed for the same thing. And that’s for Mama to get healed.

Christmas in 2018

Now another Christmas is here and guess what??? I’m back on the ship again. Away from friends and family, people who are dear to me. Normally I would feel sad and quietly I would cry. But today my heart overflows with joy. I’ve learned to be more grateful. For all the blessings I receive every single day. For all the help generously offered and given. For this job I have which I’ve learned to love. For Mama getting better.For many wishes granted and many more to make. For old dreams coming to pass and exciting new ones to chase.

Thank You Lord Jesus for the gift of Christmas. Thank You for giving us Yourself which is the greatest gift we’ll ever receive. Thank You also for the many Christmases at sea where You never failed to make me feel how much You love me. I’ve learned a lot since that one fateful day of December when I left with a broken heart. As promised, You’ve healed my wounds when Papa left for good. Now that Mama is sick, we worry less. We know you’re in charge of everything. We trust that in the end everything will be okay.

Thank You also for taking me to ships. Here, You’ve changed me and You’ve pruned me. Now I’m better, wiser, and stronger. Wandering around the world but never lost. For I know where home is. Home is You and You alone.

Follow your dreams.

Jen

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