Holiday Tidings

Happy December! Holiday activities and the end of the year are suddenly upon us. Are you, like me, surprised? Feeling behind or overwhelmed? Feeling energized and excited?

The annual flurry of holiday events and the yearly wrap-up of other items on my to-do list still often catch me off guard. Apparently, I need a more vivid and effective reminder mechanism than those which can easily be “snoozed” or “dismissed.” Would an eye-catching bracelet tattoo of the adage, “Caution: dates on the calendar are closer than they appear!” help? Or, the threat of such if/when I procrastinate? I’m open to suggestions…not that I’ll implement all of them, of course.

This year, the Christmas holiday shopping season almost eclipsed Thanksgiving and preceded Halloween. I get it. Retailers hope to lengthen and maximize their biggest and most promising shopping season. Buyers hope to find bargains to stretch tight budgets, so brave the formidable crowds and the crazy scenes in stores and malls.

While many of us dislike the more commercial, superficial and obligatory aspects of holiday giving; it’s hard to sit out the opportunity to give gifts to our families and close friends. Participation in holiday traditions and festivities can be joyful and heartfelt – especially if we seek out meaningful, local, and sustainable gift options whenever possible.

Fortunately, my own holiday preparations this season involve very little shopping. In recent years, we’ve made concerted efforts to simplify and look for alternatives. With gifts, that’s easier to do now. All but two of the younger people in my life are grown and out on their own, living in small and temporary spaces. Most of the rest of us have what we need in terms of tangible things; some may even be downsizing soon. To me, time often seems like the greater luxury. Fortunately, experience has finally taught me not to overbook my schedule. Technology makes holiday shopping, and correspondence with those I don’t often see in person, faster and easier.

Looking for boating-related gift ideas or advice? It strikes me that boating is, or can seem, unaffordable and/or out of reach for so many. I’d love to see all of us here help remedy that. First, I’ll reprise this earlier post in which I describe several ways to help make that happen. Adding to those, following are some practical and a few less-conventional suggestions – gifts for those who have boats, as well as for those who don’t.

  • Introduce someone to boating! Give the gift of boating experiences, so that those who don’t have access to a boat have an opportunity to get out on the water. Share your knowledge and boating skills. Help them get started. For some people, it’s not about money or time, but rather that they have no role models, or no one to go out with. That has been my situation, so I recognize it in others – especially young people, who may find it easier to hang out online or follow the land-based crowd.
  • Share information about boating activities, especially low-cost opportunities to get out on the water! In Seattle, we’re lucky to have Free Sunday Sailings – an awesome way to meet like-minded people, as well as experience different types of vessels – yet, a seemingly well-kept secret. I’ve also found occasional opportunities to try out kayaks and stand-up paddle boards (companies that sell or rent them attract potential customers this way). Seasonal activities such as the flotilla of Christmas Ships, also provide a unique and magical experience for both boaters and passengers – as well as for those on shore.
    Christmas Ship at Alki Beach-1
  • Keep in mind that those who have boats, who may no longer be able to venture out alone, may be thrilled to join you on your vessel or to have you accompany them on theirs.
  • Perhaps I should also mention that there are alternatives to solo boat ownership – co-owning a vessel with friends/family, renting or leasing one, and boat clubs.
  • For those who do have a boat, but not yet a SlideMoor docking system, can you guess what might be the perfect gift?
  • Consider gifts of boating-related gear that can make being outdoors on the water safer or more comfortable. Getting started with any activity can be expensive, so don’t hesitate to donate or pass-along your used gear and equipment. Also, don’t overlook safety gear for those four-footed deck-hands, such as colorful doggy life vests.
    20150126_155816 - doggy life jackets
  • Boating-related services, or money for those things that may seem optional or go undone on a tight budget, are incredibly generous and welcome! Deferred maintenance can become a significant issue over time, and potentially pose danger.
  • Class tuition, books, and other boating resources also make great gifts. A former colleague recently earned her Bareboat Skipper license. Do you know someone who would love to do the same?

For those on your gift list who aren’t interested in boats, please jettison the urge to buy them something from your own wish list! Instead, get them something that suits them…then gradually win them over using some of these ideas during the coming year. Not.

Still feeling generous or in need of an end-of-year tax deduction? Consider donations on someone’s behalf to some of the many wonderful non-profit organizations who work to protect whales and other marine mammals or keep our waterways clean.

I would be excited to receive any of the gifts I’ve described here, as well as that sporty little boat in the photo above…I love to be surprised!

Kidding aside, time spent with family and friends top my holiday Wish List this year. I especially value gifts of time and help, travel and new experiences, opportunities for growth, and things that spark insights or creativity.

As a child, an Etch-a-Sketch received at Christmas instantly became my favorite possession. Hours disappeared as I immersed myself in the creation of wonderful scenes, many of boats. These drawings embodied so many of my hopes, and often illustrated the life I wanted. Surprisingly, I often found it hard erase them, to let them go when they were finished. Conversely, it was incredibly exciting to shake things up, to start anew with a blank screen, to improve upon or refine details, and envision all the endless possibilities.

Cheers to another year together! All the best for a wonderful holiday season, as well as a new year full of amazing experiences and more opportunities to shape the lives we want!

Karen Berge

Karen Berge

I enjoy living in Seattle, where boating opportunities abound. My goal is to take advantage of them all!
Karen Berge

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