By: Judie Mackie
While most parents are sipping coffee from their favorite mug on Christmas morning, our family glances at the presents Santa has delivered into our home. With knowing smiles, we turn on the Christmas music and prepare breakfast while investigating what is in our stockings. After breakfast the adults dress in their finest holiday attire, shine our boots, gather up our weapons, kiss our children goodbye and hop into the family sedan to meet up with other Pirates for a day of un-pillaging and un-plundering right here in Nassau County, Florida.
For many years my husband and I have chaired the Fernandina Pirates Club’s Invasion of the Pirates at Joy to the Children’s Christmas Day Celebration, an event that warms even the cold, black heart of a Pirate.
Nearly 175 children in our own community would not otherwise be able to experience the Joy of Christmas without the generosity of so many volunteers and businesses in Northeast Florida.
Pirates gather in preparation of storming the party with gifts in hand to share with the youngsters awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus. Singing Christmas carols and listening to stories, the children are kept busy while the families are fed holiday delights. Assigned Table Angels make each family feel welcome and assure everything runs smoothly, for these Angels there is nothing more important than making this a special day for the children.
The children’s laughter increases and their eyes light up with the magic of Christmas as they eagarly await Santa’s dramatic entrance. The Pirate’s job quickly winds down to a hault as the kids only have eyes for Santa Claus, so we wave goodbye to our newest Cabin Boys and Girls and swiftly head for our ships leaving them once again in the perfectly capable hands of so many generous volunteers.
We gather outside before our departure with emotional reviews of the time spent with the children and share hugs and Merry Christmas wishes with our Pirate friends before returning home to our own families.
Our youngest daughter excitedly runs to hug us as we return home and it is in the eyes of our own children that we see the true meaning of Christmas.
Our children have never once complained about giving up their parents for a few hours every Christmas. They see us dress up as pirates to help entertain these innocent and less fortunate children. As the oldest kids are now grown, when they are in Fernandina Beach for Christmas, they too will dress in their best Pirate holiday attire and join us as we attempt to spread Joy to the Children.