Having spent more Christmas seasons in the Northwest than in CA, where I grew up, I find the Northern version more to my liking, though New Mexico is my favorite. Because it is typically cold and damp here in Dec the scents and sights are different. Fresh, clean smells and sparkling reflective colors abound.
Living near the town of Gig Harbor provides a another fun element to the holidays with their long held tradition of a lighted boat parade. Like other communities around the world, the season is kicked off with a tree lighting. That tree is what you are seeing behind the fisherman statue in the park; and reflected in the still bay water.
The boat parade happens a week later. If I am going to be perfectly honest, I haven't attended one in a couple of decades, as crowds and limited parking are just enough to keep me at arms length. However, part of this traditions magic is watching the harbor boats slowly come to life over the week or so prior to the parade. Then there is a flurry of decorating the day of the event. Once night falls, all the boats slowly circle the harbor a few times. Children's eyes grow big as they pass and boat captains are rewarded with much applause and gratitude for their efforts.
We have lived in this area for so long now, I recognize that some boat lights have gone out through the years which comes with sadness, along with the pleasure of knowing their parade lives on. A community built on the backs of it's early fishermen, Gig Harbor, like other fishing villages, reflects that hard work and the timeless celebration of it.
It was a pleasure to stand beside the magic of those lights for a bit last week. People passing, smiling, sharing a few words with me as we all soaked in the feel of the season. Then it was back to reality, making those earlier moments all the sweeter. Thank you Gig Harbor!