Culture

A Well-Spent Christmas

Written by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Let no one deter you from taking Christmas to the max. Shop till you drop, feed as many people as possible, give and then give again. A life well-lived is chock-full of good memories, and no memory is greater than a great Christmas.

Remember Claude McKay’s ‘Flame Heart’:
“We were so happy, I remember,
Beneath the poinsettia’s red in warm December.”

Whatever the future may bring, we can give our children a Christmas that will warm them even on the coldest New York night. The gingery sips of bright red sorrel, the fruity richness of Jamaican fruitcake (not its pale North American cousin), tender gungo rice and peas and well-seasoned meats, make ours possibly the best tasting Christmas in the world.

Fill your senses with the sights and sounds of Christmas: pots of poinsettia bursting into bloom, beautiful children clutching new toys, colourful jonkunnu dancers, sparkling lights and Christmas carols. Our childhood Christmas was simple but exciting. One memory is of Christmas Eve when Dad took us downtown to Times Store where we rode the escalator, bought toys and a precious picture book. Once we four children pooled all our savings to buy our parents a brass dinner bell, still treasured at the old house. However simple the gift, it was wrapped and placed under our tiny tree.

On Christmas Eve our youth group hired a donkey cart and we clopped through the neighbourhood singing carols before Midnight Mass. At church we dimmed the lights and lit candles, singing until midnight when the church was suddenly lit up and bells rang out. After that, we raced home to open our gifts.

And so we are repeating the tradition one generation later. Our daughter will enthusiastically unwrap the decorations to trim the tree and our son red-gowned, will process with fellow altar-servers up the aisle. A few years ago we were setting out sorrel and pudding for Santa and a big-big bucket of water for his reindeer – now it’s a happy giggling memory among us four. Each year the children at our church entertain little friends from the inner city. You should hear a child from Olympic Gardens standing proudly at the microphone and singing “Adeste Fideles” in Latin without a hitch. The children of uptown and downtown sing together of a birth which has brought an enduring message of peace and love, faith and hope.

Make it a good Christmas, and spread the joy. The splashes of colour and the flashes of lights are the exclamation points for the happiest message in the history of the world. The season’s gatherings and greetings promote Christ’s message of love and unity, the celebrations showcase the talents which He commanded us to multiply. A Christmas well spent transforms the water of an ordinary existence into the wine of a rich memory, mellowing with age.

About the Writer

Jean Lowrie-Chin heads PRO Communications Ltd, an advertising and PR agency, in Kingston, Jamaica. She is a poet and columnist for the Jamaica Observer. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in English from the University of the West Indies.

About the author

Jean Lowrie-Chin