You could be forgiven for thinking that as the last child of many siblings, I would easily become lost in the constant activity and craziness that was the preparation for Christmas at my home. But there is always sanity in madness. Despite outward appearances of chaos, the preparations were scheduled and executed with almost military precision and each sibling/recruit knew their role.
Build up to Christmas
As night follows day, I knew as soon as school holidays began, curtains throughout the house would be changed. My first assigned duty was to clean the louvres. Yes, this is my Caribbean Christmas in the ’80s. Floors had to be mopped and polished to a fine shine and the entire house had to be cleaned; cleaning that continued apace until almost the last moment before the rush to get ready to attend mass on Christmas Eve. Where was the fun for my young self, you ask?
I loved being in the thick of things when the fruit/black cake and sorrel were being made; as the last child, it was my guilty pleasure to enjoy the remnants of the tasty cake batter on the spatula and in the mixing bowl after the cake-baking was finished. Yum! (To be honest, as a child, I licked that spatula clean much to my mother’s chagrin!) As menial as my task was, I also enjoyed cutting the string for my official role as tie-knotter during the marathon pastelle-making session that often lasted well into the night.
Lest we forget, fashion was already important business for me at that young age. I would spend many nights ruminating about my outfit for Christmas Eve mass and how I would make it look special even when I hadn’t much choice in the selection process. The Diva had already been birthed.
Changing the Christmas Pace
With maturity came some wisdom. I began to realize that the volume needed to be lowered on the increasing buzz that accompanied Christmas. I needed a moment to breathe. Stop the stress. Slow down the activity.
As my self-awareness grew, I realized I needed to make changes. I love the season of Christmas and I embrace all the lessons and values it teaches but I had to transform my childhood experience to one that would be kinder to my mind, body and spirit during this wonderful and miraculous time of year.
Yes, the adult me still loves to cook, especially at Christmas time. I still love cutting up the seasoning herbs for the turkey, stuffing and pastelles. I still do enjoy the house cleaning, the smell of newly painted walls, gleaming floors, gorgeous poinsettias and a house fully “put away” as we say. What is different is that I am more forgiving of myself if some activities slide. I do still adhere to a schedule but I definitely give myself more time, pace myself and quickly identify what is mandatory and what is not.
Christmas is for all of us. It is a time of renewal, re-affirmation and most importantly, love. So in my new Caribbean Christmas, the buzz has been lowered and slowed. For this Diva, Christmas is a time of peace and love, a time for congregating with family, sharing and giving to those in need and yes, attending Christmas mass for sure.
Remember the reason for the season. Keep the true meaning and spirit of Christmas alive.