We have ‘celebrated’ Christmas overseas by ourselves since 2007. That is a long time to be without family at Christmas. Last year – the first since we left Canada – we went home. It was bitterly cold last year, and we are no longer used to the Canadian winter, but we loved it just the same. No amount of cold could chill hearts that were warmed by being with our children and grandchildren and our extended families. We even got to see the New Year in with our grandchildren in Cleveland.

This year was even better, for this year Jon and his family came to Cayman and celebrated Christmas with us here. During winters in Cayman the almost unbearable heat of the summer gives way to more moderate temperatures and the cooling Caribbean breezes gently blow the sea air across the island. Sunrises are long, and the sunsets linger for hours.

Our days were filled with the happy sounds of children at play on the sand and surf. When our time at the beach was done, the kids would happily return to the pool at our condo and play the rest of the day, practicing their dives and checking out their snorkeling equipment.

Friends of ours, Tom and Jana Hartley, went home to Florida for Christmas, leaving us the keys to their condo where Jon and Nic could stay. They left food in the fridge and freezer, and even bought them a welcoming bottle of wine and some snacks. Their place, like ours, has a pool so the two of them were able to have some quiet time.

The grandkids stayed with us in the spare bedroom, Eli just barely able to fit the small bed we bought for Russ on his visit. Typically, Jon and Nic would show up just after breakfast and leave when the kids went to bed.

Having been here once before was a blessing as none of us felt the need to do the things you are supposed to do when visiting another country. We went for walks, barbequed some meals and hung out on the beach. In the evening we watched some shows on Netflix that at our place is hooked to Jon’s account, so the kids could just pick up on what they usually watched. It was low key, low maintenance and highly enjoyable.

On Christmas Day Pam and I got to play Nice and Naughty Santa to hand out the presents. I will let you figure out who was who. We had enjoyed shopping in the limited retail market of George Town for weeks, and likely took more delight in seeing each gift unwrapped than the kids did.

The most fun gift – for me anyway – was the kite we took to Seven Mile Beach on a blustery day with Ben and I falling over each other trying to get this thing in the air. However, Ben would likely say it was the toy helicopters with their LED lights that they could fire off our balcony into the driveway below. Or perhaps it was the ukulele, and the opportunity to play a duet with Grandpa on his guitar with some chords that I hastily taught him.

It was a wonderful visit, the more so as it was so rare. Of all the things we miss about this itinerant life, it is not seeing the kids at Christmas that tugs at our hearts the most. The blessing is that now we are in the Caribbean we are only four hours from Toronto and see our kids and grandkids more easily and more often than we did in Malaysia. We really need to do Christmas together more often!