Christmas on board HS Columbia

Christmas on board

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. I guess you already know the lyrics of one of the most famous Christmas carols ever written and I really hope you listened to it during Christmas time – at home, with your family and friends or on board, together with your fellow seafarers.

Apart from its religious meaning, Christmas is a time of joy and celebration when people get together to share special moments which are better brought to light into the cozy and familiar environment of everyone’s home. Unfortunately, being a ‘man of the sea’ implies a lot of sacrifices and out of ‘normal’ habits, including spending Christmas time in the middle of the ocean, far away from anything familiar and surrounded by ‘foreign’ people who may not even share the same religion. Under the circumstances, all you have to do is try to enjoy a bit of Christmas spirit with your beloved ones always on your mind and hoping that next year you will make up for the pain and suffering of this year Christmas and you will be home, with your family.

After four Christmases in a row spent at home with our families, this year Christmas found us on board HS Columbia, in the middle of a multinational crew – made up of 12 Filipinos, 5 Montenegrins, one Latvian and 5 Romanians.

As more than half of the entire crew on board celebrated Christmas on the same day – the rest belonging to the old church of Russia – we decided to celebrate Christmas Eve outside, with a barbeque grill and other tasty meals, prepared in advance by our very skillful and hardworking cook … I was cookie’s assistant and I prepared some Romanian traditional meals myself … and some sweets as well.

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

So, after leaving the port of Krishnapatnam, in the afternoon of 24th December, we all began to make preparation for the special evening and help in any way that we could. Some started the fire for the grill; others arranged the tables and the chairs in the dedicated space, on the starboard side, deck D. While the cook and the steward were still very busy in the kitchen with the last preparations, some of us decorated the barbeque area with Christmas lights and other specific decorations, including a Christmas tree.

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Although far away from our beloved families, we all tried to enjoy the evening as much as we could and we finally managed to have fun and receive the blessings of another wonderful Christmas. The evening went by very fast; Christmas carols accompanied us while eating and speaking about previous Christmases at home and, thanks to the new technology, we were even able to send Christmas wishes to our families and friends in real time.

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

As evening was changing into night, everybody started to become a little anxious and curious if Santa Claus would be able reach us in the waters of the Gulf of Bengal. So, we decided to sing some Christmas Carols to help Santa locate our vessel and not bring our gifts to another ship in the vicinity.

Christmas on board

The signals were quickly picked up and Santa Claus arrived at 10 pm with a bag full of gifts that were offered to everyone in exchange of a hand shake and a quick photo as souvenir.

Christmas on board

Christmas on board Christmas on board Christmas on board

Next day, we continued our Christmas celebration with a wonderful dinner inside Officers’ Recreation Room – because the rain prevented us from gathering in the open air again – with very good food, music and karaoke. Although the space was quite small for such a big crowd, we really enjoyed being together, our hearts got closer and music united us all – regardless our countries of origin. We sang the night away – tuned to the music of the ‘80s and ‘90s – accompanied by guitar playing and solo performers.

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Christmas on board

Christmas is about family, but, being on board also brought us in the middle of another family and I am very happy I was part of it. I am very grateful I was able to play the role of a Santa Claus’ elf and organize the festive evenings to the last detail. Nothing pleased me more than seeing grown-ups smiling and anxious to open presents and I consider it to be my best Christmas present this year. I am also grateful to our company which, even during these difficult times, offered us the opportunity to celebrate Christmas and enjoy it … at its expenses.

I couldn’t stop thinking of all the seafarers around the world who were not as lucky as we were and couldn’t celebrate Christmas due to various reasons. In some cases, their schedules didn’t allow it; in others, their superior officers didn’t care much about it or even prevented them from celebrating properly. We all know that we came on board to work and working on a vessel – regardless its size or type – is totally different than working ashore, but there are a few days which deserve to be celebrated no matter what … and Christmas is the most important of them all.

Some people may think that Christmas is for children, but aren’t we all God’s children? We sure are. We all need Christmas to remind us of who we are and who we love. We all need to go back to our childhood times to remember the happy and careless moments when all we had to do is play and have fun. We all need to keep a little of that child in us in order to become good parents ourselves, to be good people, to understand and respect our neighbors – our fellow sailors – regardless their nationalities, religions or race, to be happy and grateful for what we have and never forget the hardship we might be put through while at sea. We all need some time to relax and enjoy – during a difficult and very long voyage – to recharge our batteries in order to last till the end of our contracts and Christmas may be the perfect opportunity for this.

So, let the spirit of Christmas fill your hearts with joy, love and compassions!

Merry Christmas!

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