"A Holiday Offering" by Sarah Sibley
Originally posted in January 2018. Thank you, Sarah, for this very relevant reminder and touching gift.
I think it was a few years ago that I wrote a holiday greeting extolling the amazingness of our island community and inviting everyone to the annual holiday potluck....
I didn’t write anything last year. Maybe it was because I was anxiously anticipating a warm-weather, holiday trip to Palm Springs amidst a rather cold, stormy December on the island. Or, maybe I was just jaded. Sorry Guemes, I still love you. This year, I’m inspired to write again, because once again, I feel privileged to live here on Guemes and be a part of this community.
We are living in a time of unbelievable uncertainty, utter confusion, all-too-often gut-wrenching tragedy, and constant disbelief. It’s almost enough to make one throw up their hands in surrender and lose all holiday spirit and faith in humanity. But, because we’re Guemians, let’s do the opposite.
We are lucky, here on Guemes, to be living in a bubble – a beautiful, soft protective layer of green and blue and gray. We are separated from reality by an ever-changing channel and an unpredictable ferry; god bless it. Let’s revel in this. Our internet service goes in and out - if we even have internet service. Maybe this is a gift. An opportunity to switch off, log out, and be in the moment, right here in this incredible place we call home. It’s an opportunity to go outside and listen to the call of the barred owls and great horned owls, and the howl of coyotes, and the crow and cluck of chickens, and the chirp of dark-eyed juncos, and the shrill tones of varied thrushes. We don’t have to read headlines or watch the news. All the entertainment we need is outside our front doors. The dramatic sunsets we receive during the winter. A painted sky of rose, pink, purple, blue, orange that meets the silhouetted mountains and islands in the west and melt into the steel gray water. The anticipation of combing the beach for glistening agates after a storm. The feeling of accomplishment for climbing the mountain once again. The warm fuzzy feeling we all get when we see an otter or a seal pop it’s head out of the water while we’re walking the beach. It never gets old.
Guemes is a gift to all of us, every day. Let’s be thankful for this gift, and for each other. We were all drawn here by a desire to live a more meaningful, quiet, simple existence. Let’s prove it. While there is unrest in the world outside Guemes, there can be peace right here on our island. Let’s celebrate this holiday by wishing each other happiness. Get out of our cars on the ferry and thank the workers and wish them a Merry Christmas. Thank Howard Pellet for his steadfast commitment to peace by showing up every Friday to exercise his freedom of speech. Thank Michael Recycle for quietly volunteering to pick up the park, the beaches, the parking lot, and being a not-so-secret caretaker of our island. Thank the Skagit Land Trust for tirelessly protecting our precious land. Let’s thank our neighbors for helping out, as we do here on Guemes because it takes an island. Let’s smile at each other on the ferry, like with real eye contact, instead of avoiding each other’s gaze.
Let’s remember where we live, why we live here and how unbelievably lucky we are to call each other fellow islanders. Celebrate this season with joy, happiness, and community spirit. To quote a very meaningful holiday card I sent out this year, “Peace on Earth for F&*k Sake!” Happy Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy New Year. I’m so glad we’re all here, together.