Surfing XMas Eve
By: Rebecca Forster, December 9, 2011
Rebecca Forster - Taking some Christmas card-worthy photos on the beach before taking the plunge.
The tree, the lights, the caroling…everyone has their holiday traditions. It’s that glimmer of joy that helps you get through the long, dismal New England winters. Unless you’re a meany-pants Scrooge, you secretly find enjoyment in seeing all those obnoxious lights on people’s houses and partaking in an egg nog or two.
And yes, I also participate in many of those “traditional” holiday rituals, but it’s the untraditional that I look forward to—just as much as the re-plays of A Christmas Story.
Five years back, a group of friends and I got together and started our own Christmas pastime. We call it “The Annual Xmas Eve Surf Sesh!” (yes, exclamation point required): every December 24th, a growing number of brave souls enter the frigid Atlantic to go surfing.
Typical gear includes wetsuits, elf hats, Santa suits, surf boards, and—for warmth—Jagermiester (ONE shot—you don’t want to drown, for crying out loud).
You better not pout...
It started as an excuse to get away from our crazy families on Christmas Eve morning, and has been a welcomed tradition ever since. You can imagine the troubled look on my mother’s face when I announced “Hey Ma, I’m going surfing now,” over our morning peppermint coffee.
She got over it, but not before telling me about the great white sharks that bite people’s arms off and how I was never a great swimmer at summer camp. And how the rip currents can carry you out to sea to never be seen again because you were picked up by a Chinese cargo ship and sold to work in a sweatshop overseas.
These are all very real dangers that surfers face every day.
So off we went, up to I-495 on the trek to visit family New Hampshire, just far enough to be sure my crazy drunk uncle wouldn’t try to join us. We suited up in a rest stop bathroom just before hitting the beach (because all the beach bathrooms are locked for the season, as we discovered after the first year.)
Normally you’d suit up on the beach, but remember it’s December and the beach is -20⁰F, so we take our chances in the restroom. By the way, there’s a real science to putting on a wet suit in a public restroom without flashing your can to the world or getting gonorrhea from touching the floor.
Santa would be proud
We throw on some Santa suits over our wet suits—because ‘tis the season, after all—wax our boards (with green wax!) and hit the beach. We always take a few photos before entering the water, so we can let our friends on Facebook know what the cool kids are up to lately. If we’re lucky, there’s good waves so our efforts are not in vain.
Even if there’s not waves we go in just to paddle around until a) we can’t feel our extremities, b) we see a shark fin, or c)all the coffee from the ride up kicked in and we immediately have to poop. Pro tip: don’t poop in your wetsuit… Just don’t.
(On a side note, if any New England surfer tells you they don’t pee in their wet suit, they’re either lying or they’re not a real surfer. Even Bear Grylls knows that peeing in your wet suit is a fundamental part of cold-water survival.)
Grilled kielbasas (and more Jagermeister) on the beach usually follow, and we’re usually home to our dysfunctional families unscathed, just in time for dinner.
Start your own untradition
And so the tradition goes unbroken for this upcoming Christmas Eve. If you’re lucky enough to be on-Cape for the holidays, I urge you to start your own Christmas Eve Surf Sesh! The Cape usually gets better waves in the winter than New Hampshire anyways (sorry NH surfers).
Not a surfer? Start a Christmas Eve Kayak Sesh!, or Yuletide Yachting, or whatever. I know someone who goes out and gets merry on Scorpion Bowls on Christmas Eve every year. Not a bad alternative, but I’ll stick to surfing.
The thing that ties us all together during the holidays is tradition, no matter what shape or form it takes on. We’d love to hear about your own holiday (un)traditions in the comments section below.
See you in the water!