And so it is Christmas….nearly. Another Christmas on the boat. Our second. When I lived in a house in Canada, I was known as Clark Griswold on my street at Christmas. If you have never watched National Lampoon’s ‘Christmas Vacation’, you won’t get that reference. But if you have (and if you haven’t you’re missing a truly great Christmas flic), then you’ll recognise that I do it big and I do it right.
Decorating a boat is a little different to doing the same on a house. It’s easier in some respects….smaller and no ladders involved. But the principle is the same. Cover as much surface as possible and try to be tasteful doing it. That would be my best friend’s job. I like tacky….because I’m tacky. The more Christmas stuff the better. And everything from coloured lights that flash like mad to lighted snowpeople, reindeers, penguins and Santas….of course Santas.
But I know how to compromise and my plan for those big snowpeople (men….let’s face it) and Santas, that inflate with a fan thing inside, on top of the boat were thwarted by she who has the last word. What else is new, eh chaps? Anyway, I did get some concessions and to tell you the truth, what my best friend ended up with was much better than my ideas. Except for the inflatables, I really wanted them. And they were on sale too. Damn!
Anyway, we got together with our neighbours Eddie the Grinch (but only pretending to be) and Mimz to light up the marina with a Christmas grotto which would be the envy of any mall. And we did it relatively cheaply. The whole marina was supposed to get involved this year. Prizes are up for grabs and bragging rights assured. We did it for charity. Eddie is a nurse at an ‘end of life’ hospice and we chose to raise money for that by going mad with exterior decorating and a box to take in peoples’ donations….and to win.
We started early, at the beginning of December. There was to be a grand light turning on ceremony on the 11th, but rebels that we are, we turned ours on a week early. For a while it looked like we would be the only ones participating. But, lo and behold, on the 11th ,the marina lit up like a beacon, causing even Heathrow airport to divert planes approaching to land to avoid confusion. So I heard.
When all lights were turned on, a party from the other side of the marina (the dark side) came over while singing ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ without the figgy pudding verse. I was busy helping a neighbour untangle a ball of lights that, when finally unravelled (the next day) could have reached the moon and back. I had never seen such a long, continuous strand of lights. The only thing we could conclude is that it was a Chinese plot to drive us mad. Nearly succeeded.
Anyway, passersby had been admiring our efforts for days. Kids stopped and took in every detail. One child stood mesmerised for a whole half hour. Even a group of YOBs stopped and put money into the charity jar….which Eddie had fixed to the perimeter fence in front of our boats with very strong ties and a chain just in case. We had snowfolk, reindeer, penguins, a snow hut and little Christmas trees. We linked our boats, Eddie’s and Mimz’s and ours, with a big red bow that the ladies had made. We looked so festive.
My best friend and I had gone with Eddie and Mimz to get what we needed to decorate at more shops than I care to remember. Then we’d pick things up hither and yon when we were out on our own. I ended up dragging a bag the size of the marina back from Watford where we found a shop that sold Christmas decorations at a very good price. We risked going OTT on the whole enterprise. Some might say we did. Clark Griswold would not.
So, back to the group from the other side of the marina coming to join us. We had prepared well. We were offering mulled wine, mince tarts and little chocolates for the children that came by. Later in the evening we served vegetarian perogies, sausages, cheese crackers and regular wine. One nearby neighbour brought out a jar of mead he had made. All to warm the cockles of our hearts and the rest of us. It was a cold night and hot food and strong drink were just the ticket.
Eddie played DJ as he has done on our side of the marina for all social events. He has these Bose speakers that pump out the sound from anywhere inside and outside his boat. He had just purchased a 2 CD compilation of Christmas tunes from the producers of ‘NOW That’s What I Call Music’ for Christmas 2016. They’re only available from EMI in the UK. There were at least a million tunes on 2 CDs. It played from dusk to well past 10pm and still hadn’t exhausted all the songs. Amazing.
We sang, we danced, we jived and we laughed at more than one of the lame tunes included. But a party atmosphere it was. Great community spirit. What Christmas is all about. One neighbour, who hadn’t time to decorate his boat, wore coloured bells on his beard. As you do. It was a shame to have to end the festivities, but it got colder as the evening wore on. And, quite frankly, I was spent. All that mulled wine and such, plus Eddie had to go to work on a night shift.
But before he left, we had a photo taken of the 4 of us, the 4 Christmasteers. We all wish you and yours a safe, happy Christmas from Apsley Marina here in the UK. Cheers.