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Christmas Memories, Part II
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I had one Christmas tradition that always made my season.

One year the kids were all gone, and Molly’s mother talked us into going on a Christmas cruise. So we booked one from San Diego to Puerto Vallarta with stops at other famous Mexican resort destinations along the way.

I could say this cruise was really the cruise from the deepest parts of hell, but believe me that would not even touch how bad it really was.

At first I was excited to go. I brought my shorts and bathing suit and my little snorkeling mask. I was ready for a week of some Coronas and scenery watching.

First, it took us three hours to board the ship because we ended up in a line that included seven people in wheelchairs, 14 with canes and six with walkers.

Our room turned out to be a 10-foot by 10-foot dark cave, but we did have a porthole and a toilet at the foot of the bed that covered up to make a nice chair.

Unfortunately, the porthole didn’t open, which later proved a blessing as we went through a terrific storm, and at times the waves were higher than the porthole, and as I watched the fish swim by during this storm, even they looked scared.

The first day out to sea I put on my bathing suit, collected my favorite book and preceded to the pool deck, and surprise, there was no water in the pool.

The pool had broken on the last trip and the promised warm Mexican Riviera temperature was about 55 degrees.

I’m still not upset, because after all, it was Christmas.

Soon it was time to go get our assignments for meals. Either you received an assignment for the early seating or the late one.

In those days I had stomach problems and I needed to eat at the early setting. That’s when I found out, after standing in line for some time, that the average age of the people on the ship was 83.4, and every one of those folks were there to sign up for the early seating.

No matter how many Rolaids I took for the rest of the trip, my stomach never adjusted to those late seatings.

Later I found out more things about this ship.

I had actually seen it being towed into the harbor in Norfolk, Va.

While I was on a boat watching fireworks a few years earlier after it burned and nearly sank off the Virginia Coast, I also found out that this was the last trip for this ship, as it was going to Russia to be used as floating hotel for Eskimos.

The entertainment was nice, but I didn’t know how to do the Charleston, nor did I ever learn, and I was never very good playing checkers.

Finally I started getting up early so I could be first in line for Bingo.

If you were part of the first 50 in line, you received extra cards.

Molly had to rescue me on my first and final visit to Bingo because after I had a few (dozen) Bloody Mary’s, I thought I would lighten up the crowd. So I started yelling "Bingo!" soon after the numbers were called.

Actually I thought my sarcasm was funny and I really thought my fellow Bingo players were amused; they weren’t.

I still have scars on my legs from the canes. Do you know that some of these older folks with walkers have great upper-body strength?

On Christmas Day we stopped at Mazatlan and spent the day at Señor Frogs, and so did the crew, which should have been scary. But I was glad to be with them because they were the youngest faces I had seen for almost a week.

I fell asleep that night dreaming not about the ship from hell but the great times Christmas had brought me, and I was so glad that there was a Santa spirit or not.


T. Pat Cavanaugh is the publisher of The Rockdale News.