If you've seen Fiddler on the Roof, you will have this song stuck in your head all day along with me! The character Tevye's bold lyrics stress the importance of traditions in holding families and communities together. "Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... as... as a fiddler on the roof!"

Living onboard challenges this mom to uphold and maintain those ever-important traditions. At our home in Colorado, we have storage boxes for various holidays stacked in our basement - Easter, Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving - filled with decorations and memories. But when you live within the square feet of a boat, that doesn't leave a ton of space for storing "non-necessities". Thankfully, we have found a few fun ways to celebrate holidays, and traditions live on!! Some are new traditions and some are simply 'adapted'.


Our first official night aboard Field Trip was Christmas Eve. So, while we were schlepping all of our stuff on board, I made sure we kept track of a particular bag that contained our mini Argentina tree and our polyester, "Industria Argentina" stockings. The kids worked on making decorations, and we had so much fun decorating our new floating home. Paper wreaths replaced fancy pine bough arrangements and our tiny artificial tree with plastic ornaments stood in place of our large 'real' Colorado tree.   Our gifts were few, but are still treasured reminders of that special Christmas. Santa found us, too! He filled stockings with some similar items - toothbrushes and stickers, and some new things - alfajores (chocolate covered cookies filled with dulce de leche). We didn't have a traditional Christmas dinner, but I tried to get festive. We had green and white pasta with marinara sauce for a Christmas-colored meal! I definitely missed the cranberry sauce and stuffing, but a little change in expectations goes a long way...

Look at those smiles!  They thought this Christmas was just perfect!
This December, we will be flying to Nashville to celebrate Christmas with my side of the family and all the cousins! We enjoyed the simplicity of our Argentina Christmas, but are looking forward to a "Tender Tennessee Christmas" this year!

Note their island Easter clothes!


When Mark's mom came to visit us in Argentina, she brought a few goodies from the states that I set aside for Easter. She found great little craft kits for the kids to create silly Easter-themed glasses, and I gathered some candy from an island convenience store. We found ourselves in St. Anne's Harbor on the island of Martinique for Easter. We didn't have our cute little Pottery Barn baskets that the Easter Bunny had filled in the years past, but a few tupperware containers hidden throughout the boat did the trick just fine. 

Elizabeth and Michael were thrilled to get some candy - no matter what it was in!! By chance, we ran into some cruising friends we'd met in St. Lucia. The boating world is surprisingly small, and it is such a treat to see a boat you know or hear a familiar voice on the radio! They had decided to celebrate with a beach potluck, and we were invited to join them. So after our on board family church service, we whipped up some deviled eggs and headed to shore. The kids brought some of their Easter stickers to share, and it was a wonderful afternoon of fun with our cruising family!  

Calafate Berry icecream!


Last year, we were in Buenos Aires, Argentina for Thanksgiving. As an American, I didn't took this day of feasting and thankfulness for granted. It didn't occur to me until we lived in another country that Thanksgiving was a solely American holiday. Okay, I know, duh. Who else would celebrate the Pilgrims' success in learning how to survive in the New World with the help of the Native Americans?? Surely not the Argentines!! So, no turkey dinner for us! We happened to be traveling in southern Argentina (El Calafate) during Thanksgiving. We had a few special meals that weren't at all traditional, but created memories nonetheless.
Souffle Flambe!
The view from the restaurant!  So much to be thankful for!!
An Argentine pizza feast!  Complete with fried egg, strips of bacon, green olives, sweet sun-dried tomatoes,hearts of palm, pineapple,  and salsa golf (kind of a thousand island dressing!  Who needs turkey??
80's rockers in 2009


This is another holiday that is really not celebrated outside the US. In Argentina, some folks from the kids' art class invited us over for a get together. But there was no trick-or-treating. And no costumes.

Now, in our past life, we held a Halloween Bash every year and loved dressing up as a family. It was a big deal, and friends looked forward to it every year, planning their costumes months in advance. We could not let Halloween pass us by again this year. We happened to be anchored along the Alligator River in North Carolina... alone... no boats around to dinghy over to, knock on the hull, and say, 'trick-or-treat'! We had just survived Hurricane Sandy, and it was time for a little creative fun!

Mark and I collaborated to devise a memorable night. We both snuck away and swapped clothes. He applied my lipstick and a sun hat, and I mascara'd on a beard and threw on his baseball cap. The kids got the giggles as we stepped out in our homemade costumes! Calling Mark "Mom" and me "Dad". Then Mark and I split up - he went in the guest room and I went in our room. The kids went back and forth, knocking on our cabin doors, trick-or-treating! A small snackbag of candy was a far cry from the pillowcase-ful of candy they'd gotten in our old neighborhood, but again, they were thrilled. We all had fun creating our own Halloween Bash!
Halloween with our crew 2012
Elizabeth's gifts all in island wrapping!


Wherever we are for someone's birthday, they get to choose a special "Birthday souvenir" to remember where they celebrated.

Elizabeth made her own cake this year in Portland, Maine, and picked out a stuffed lobster souvenir. In Bar Harbor, for my birthday, the kids went hiking with Mark and picked wild blueberries for pancakes! It's not easy to run out to Target and pick up gifts and wrapping paper, so we've improvised. I try to pick up gifts when I see them, then hide them in a secret compartment on board until the day comes. To wrap the gifts, I used sarongs that have proven multi-functional as tablecloths, dresses, hair accessories, hobo satchels, and beach towels! The kids get to choose the agenda for the day, wherever we might be. Our small celebrations are a far cry from the themed birthday parties we organized back home, but they are somehow more meaningful. We talk about when the kids were born and tell the birthday kid why they are so important to our family.

She was so proud of the cake she made!
Michael "Making a Wish" - Taking it Seriously!
Yes, traditions must live on. They might look different, but we still celebrate. The tooth fairy still finds us, too! Plus, we've found a few unique traditions to celebrate on board that we never got to celebrate in Colorado! The kids always remind us to make "sundowners" when we get to a new place and we all toast to safe travels and a new harbor to explore!

Right now, we are enjoying Thanksgiving in the Smoky Mountains where Mark grew up. The kids got to read stories with Great Grandma Silverstein, and are hearing stories of his childhood. How thankful we are for turkey in the oven and family all around us.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Kids with their great grandmother "GG" - Thanksgiving 2012


  1. Sarah and Mark,
    Great to hear how y'all are incorporating traditions on board. We spent a few nights in the Smokies as well during the kids Thanksgiving break. Would have loved to meet up for lunch or dinner. Looking forward to getting together in the new year.
    See ya soon.


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