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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lessons from a Fulltime RV Holiday Humbug

… or how one young fulltime RVer celebrates the holiday season

Coming in quick succession making mid-November through early January a blur for many, the trifecta of year-end holidays is once again upon us. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to pick up a publication right now that doesn’t offer some piece of advice on “surviving” the holiday or “how to do more with less time”. While living the fulltime RV lifestyle doesn’t give my husband Ray and me a pass on ‘all things holiday’ it does allow us to fly under the radar and celebrate in a way that’s meaningful to us.

Our Reason for the Season

Several years ago, like all mainstream holiday celebrants, I was part of the mall crush. Hurry. Hurry. Buy. Buy. It was far from the seasonal edict of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. I looked around and asked myself if this was my best interpretation of the season. My silent answer? Hardly. Maybe you’ve asked yourself that same question.

Ray and I discussed this topic at length. For us, the actionable answer to my question posed at the mall was that we were interested in experiences, not things; the quality of life as measured in relationships and giving back; the marrying of our dreams to the way we celebrated.

Holiday Presents Don’t Always Come Giftwrapped

Just being on the road seemed celebratory to us but as the first holiday season on the road approached we felt full of possibility. Ray had never experienced a warm winter and since we had to be somewhere for the year-end holidays we headed south. Thanksgiving that year was with my father, Christmas on an island and New Year’s in a hot tub. Aside from a few gifts for my dad, our exchange (if you can even call it that) was small but memorable – a TV/VCR combo so we could enjoy movies at home as opposed to in a park’s clubhouse, an outing to enjoy the holiday boat parade, a bag of delicious Texas grapefruit purchased from a roadside vendor in South Padre Island, and a memorable New Year’s Eve meal that included ceviche – recipe courtesy of a Hispanic produce manager’s wife – it doesn’t get any more authentic than that.

The following Thanksgiving we found ourselves workamping and not completely happy with our situation. The people were great but the job just wasn’t a good fit. This was putting quite a damper on our holiday season. It turns out the biggest gift we could give ourselves that year was to recognize when something didn’t feel right and take action to remedy it. Upon my father’s urging we pulled up stakes and embarked on a Florida Keys adventure. The Christmas week began with an encounter with manatees, an ice cream social, and a site with a view of the Florida Bay. New Year’s Eve was spent with new friends – some we still call close to this day – and that year January 1st was special as we strolled alongside the restoring turquoise ocean.

Thirteen Fulltime RV Living Years and Still Celebrating

Since those formative first two holiday seasons have come and gone, we’ve honed in on what we really love. Each Thanksgiving is special and different. We’ve spent it with family at a restaurant and with fellow campers at an RV park. We learned how to make Trash Can Turkey in New Mexico and have shared Mom’s Famous Cranberry Sauce with RV Cooking Show viewers across the globe…literally. It turns out our favorite Thanksgiving is where most American’s spend it…at home…for us that’d be our RV.

Sometimes I cook an unusual version of the holiday meal. For example, a couple years ago we had a Cuban Thanksgiving complete with Mojo Criollo crockpot turkey breast, Cuban black beans, yellow rice, steamed broccoli, and garlic bread (a throwback to the Florida Keys days we so enjoyed). Other years I cook a full on traditional turkey dinner. This year I tried my hand at Cornish game hens. If friends are around they are always invited.

Like many of you reading this piece, Ray and I do not exchange gifts. We have everything we need and if we have a want we simply go out and buy it. While certain items are needed/wanted, in our humble roadabode “stuff’ is overrated. Instead, in celebration of Ray’s late-December birthday we do something special each day of “birthday week”. It might be a hike, lunch out at a favorite haunt, a movie of his choice and popcorn at home, etc. 

Every Day a Holiday

Long ago we decided that the spirit of the season should prevail all year long. So instead of attempting to travel on just a few select days along with the entire U.S. population, dine together and with friends on one single day devoted to a big, heavy meal, and participate in the urgency of purchasing things as a way of demonstrating affection we endeavor to live as if every day was a holiday. Very merry! How about you?

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