A Caribbean Christmas in Coral Bay
While Christmas time everywhere is special, there is something about the season in the Caribbean that, in my opinion, makes it that much better.
The weather is back to perfect with the humidity leveled off and the cool trade winds blowing again. Restaurants and businesses are back open and our snow bird homeowners have flocked back for the season.
Our Christmas season officially kicked off this year at the Coral Bay Bizarre Bazaar, the first annual holiday fundraiser for a the Coral Bay Community Council, which has realized some amazing progress in reducing storm water runoff and protecting our bay. The organization is all about planned, community-driven growth and serves as an important voice for area residents. And, more importantly, their fundraising committee knows how to throw a party.
The day was set to feature a home brewer’s beer competition with six entrants, some of whom were bringing their suds over from St. Thomas to take part. Tons of talented local artists were there selling everything from original paintings to funky T-shirts and amazing hand-wrought jewelry. Buying directly from the artist is the perfect antidote to all those “pre-Black Friday” sales that start on Thanksgiving Day and all things Walmart.
Santa Claus even made an appearance in order to take pictures with the little ones – and not so little ones – and listen to those Christmas present wishes. A yard sale, plant sale, bake sale, marine items sale and food sales were planned to round out the day and get everyone ready for a merry ole December.
A bit later in December brings two more of my favorite Coral Bay Christmas traditions. The annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Community Sing-along is hands-down one of my favorite nights of the year. Island elders used to gather together the night before Christmas and go door to door singing carols. Those carolers were usually met with plates of food and glasses of local cordial as each neighbor would join the group until they made it to town and rang in Christmas morning. While singers no longer go door-to-door there is still an early morning sing-along pot-luck hosted at the park in Cruz Bay each Christmas morning.
Over the years that singing tradition has grown to include a community party in Coral Bay which was started by a group of friends who gathered to sing their favorite holiday songs. Those friends began this tradition almost 50 years ago and each year neighbors from across Coral Bay, local church choirs and children from local schools still gather at the basketball court to sing their favorite Christmas songs. We bring a group of friends from Skinny Legs, someone brings sheets of holiday song lyrics and we sing a few songs at the celebration each year.
The ceremony continues after the songs wind down, when Santa Claus arrives on a fire truck with sirens blaring, to the delight of every child in attendance. Everyone brings along a present and Santa hands them out to all the little kids shrieking in amazement. It’s impossible not to enjoy this Coral Bay gathering.
Another perfect Christmas outing is the annual holiday concert at the historic Moravian Church hosted by our adult choir, St. John Singers. Each year brings a new delight of both ancient and modern songs and impressive solos by talented musicians. The church affords some fantastic acoustics and there is usually a gentle breeze blowing through the huge arched windows overlooking the bay.
Our annual Skinny Legs Christmas Party is up next and we’re changing things up a little this year. We’re closing our doors and getting a caterer so we don’t have to worry about cooking and then enjoying our restaurant ourselves with our hard-working and amazing staff and their families. We’ll decorate our tree and hang our stockings. We’re going to be making Christmas cookies and I’ll be mulling up some wine. Then we’ll pop a few bottles of bubbly and enjoy a great meal together like the family that we truly are. I’m excited!
And all of that is before Christmas, which is my favorite day of the year! We have very strict traditions at our house where mimosas are followed by opening presents and a breakfast of New Jersey bagels with Taylor ham, fried eggs and cheese. Then there’s an extravagant dinner and all the cookies and shortbread you can still eat.
I’m getting excited just thinking about it! Merry Christmas from St. John!
~ Written by: Jaime Elliott
Publishers Note: Make your plans to spend next year in the islands at one of the fine places that advertise here in the Caribbean Connection section! All of these properties are owned by local Alexandrians. Feel free to call us here at the Crier for references to any of them!