By Kielon Hilaire. I remember when I was just a little boy and all the joys the Christmas season used to bring. Picture a child of eight years old eagerly counting down the days till Christmas while impatiently awaiting everything but his two front teeth. Schools usually closed just a few days into December and for some odd reason “class parties” which usually heralded the onset of a child’s Christmas vacation used to be often held on a Wednesday or Thursday during the last week of school. What a shame! This meant that children whose parents believed their child would win an award for perfect attendance, had to resort to all-time lows like faking a severe belly pain for a day or two so they could have said an early goodbye to school and a merry hello to Christmas. Well, if I remembered correctly, my belly used to mysteriously start aching from November!
From the very first day of my Christmas vacation I would wake early and madly dash towards the kitchen to observe what sort of Christmas dishes my mummy would be making. The first few days often resulted in me showing a rather long face. “Ah not starting to cook or bake nothing till this place looks like ah house,” my mother used to say. All that meant was that she wanted to see our home thoroughly spick and span (decorations included) before any fun could be had. Of course this would dampen any child’s mood but my mother’s subsequent threat of “And I will tell Santa not to come if this place is not cleaned!” usually made me see the Christmas spirit immediately. I would then grab a paint brush, give my brother and sister a broom and a mop and together as a family we would begin to transform the house. In the end it somehow always turned out to be fun. Oh, and the house actually did look nice.
Days later such a wide variety of food and snacks were available that you were never always sure what to eat, when to eat it or sometimes how to. And Trini children sure love their tummies so my hands had shamelessly frequented the bottom of many pots, jars, bowls, and paper bags. But what would a Trini Christmas be without treating yourself to some of the most renowned Christmas delicacies like ham, turkey, pastelle, sponge cake, buttermilk cookies, macaroni pie, sorrel and ginger ale. However, back then no matter how much I tried to reach for Punch de Crème and Black Forest cake my hands always used to get smacked. I always wondered whose idea it was to forbid a happy 8-year-old boy from consuming the then mystifying ingredient known as alcohol. Oh well.
The remaining days leading up to Christmas would then become filled with family bonding, Christmas carols, cartoons, and the entertaining concept of “moving from house to house”, which simply involved spending time at your friends’ and families’ homes. Christmas day would then finally arrive and after a half sleepless night wondering what Santa would bring me I would wake up to unwrap my gifts under the Christmas tree, thanks to the thoughtfulness of “Mr and Mrs Santa Claus”.
December of present
Fast forward to the present and I sometimes find myself remembering what used to make me so eager about Christmas as a child. Some may say it was the tasty Trini food, the surprise gifts I looked forward to and even the undisputed love of Jesus Christ. Yes, all of those things had a significant part to play but what I remember most was the combination of spending time with family and friends and the fun and freedom that used to bring to everyone. Christmas was not viewed as a single day and everyday was a completely different adventure, even well past the 25th of December.
While it is inevitable that Christmas will always be a more enjoyable experience for a child — because let’s face it: adults do most of the work in making the season enjoyable — consider how different a child may turn out to be if he/she never gets to fully anticipate and experience the fulfilment of their wildest dreams, an experience that most can only experience once per year. After all, there is no purer thing in life than a child’s innocence. This, and probably the first time I ever heard someone say, “Take ah sip nah. Ah lil alcohol good for de worms.” There is always joy to be had with a Trini Christmas.
December 2013 – Issue 7 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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