It’s November 15th and if the local radio stations haven’t started playing carols, you can be sure the studio lines will start ringing with people who will tell them so – “Chris I aint hear alyo start to play any parang yet ahnah”. Christmas in St. Vincent & the Grenadines is like no other. Nine days before the big day, the nation begins early morning festivities a mixture of singing, dancing and a multiplicity of performances. I think however it’s safe to say the house preparations start significantly earlier than the nine morning celebrations, furniture and other household decorations are packed away while the fresh scent of paint gives testimony to the face-lift received by the walls of houses big and small. No matter the age you know the woman of the house would find a task for you to do; be it clean the windows, decorate the Christmas tree or untangle last year’s Christmas lights. The shopping is unparalleled; our people do not seem to be content without a new refrigerator, stove, "chair set" the list is endless. As a child I looked forward to the presents and spending money; I was sure would come because it was that special time of year.
Christmas carols, Parang and what I like to call Christmas Soca can be heard pulsating from the radio as savory smells continuously emanate from the kitchen filled with young and older women alike; blackcake, roost pork, baked hams, fresh bread, ginger beer and punch de creme are just a few of the treats brewing while, my mother could be heard shouting at my dad to “stop tasting and go out de kitchen”.
Over the past few years Christmas has become increasingly commercialized but in spite of this Christmas in Vincy is never replete without giving thought to the true meaning of the season in a predominantly Christian society we are very aware that, as coined my one of our local calypsonians, “Jesus is the reason for the season”, so parents rush their children out of the house on afternoons to go to church and practice for the Christmas production, I remember reciting over and over numerous Christmas poems because on the big day I knew I just had to get it right. Then on Christmas morning we put on our “Sunday Best” and go to give God thanks for the greatest gift of all, as scenes of the nativity found displayed on lawns across the country, come alive before our eyes. We watch as our sisters or daughters or cousins who have temporarily become the Virgin Mary give birth to the Christ, a teddy or dolly which looks vaguely familiar but representative of Jesus nonetheless.
As a child innocent to many of the baser sides of human nature I was still struck by just how much Christmas seemed to bring out the best in people, the stingy or cheap as we say back in Vincy will find an extra dollar to give to a roadside beggar, we happily chatter with a total stranger as we look for bargains in a higher purchase store and as a passerby steps on our toes we barely notice as we wish them a Merry Christmas. As an adult I am still aware of the wonder which is wrought by the “Christmas Spirit” and every Christmas I am filled with joy mostly because of how this season of food, caroling, shopping and remembering our savior has the power to touch lives and change hearts.
MY FAVOURITE TIME OF THE YEAR
Written Dec, 2008