Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Joy Of Christmas

This time of year holds so much fun in store. Children draw it out best of all as they fill themselves with excitement at every chance that a present will appear. Adults are a mixed bag. I asked a woman shop attendant last week if she was looking forward to Christmas and she said "No," without hesitation. I asked her if she was a Christian, and she retorted "Who, me?" I did not go any further. For many adults, Christmas is hard work to satisfy self, family, children and others, and work seems to increase rather than lessen. Christmas can be the season of more, more more. But, I try to take Christmas as a season during which I lighten my load. It can be a well-imposed break: I explained to some friends that as with Easter, Christmas week and longer would find me nowhere near my office, when I worked in one. I like the Caribbean way of celebrating the season: passing by friends and relatives and eating cake; drinking sorrel and ginger, and egg nog, and ponche de creme; singing carols; having a houseful of people ready to out up with discomfort for the coziness of friendship.

But, the season is a good one for levity. Some of it is purely accidental. I got back to my house and took a call from the US from someone wanting to talk to my wife. I told them brusquely that she was not available. "When will she be back?" the over-friendly operative asked. "Next year," I said, without hesitation. The pause was long. "Oh yeah...in a few days. Gotcha. Good one." He laughed. So, even before old Saint Nick comes down the chimney chiming "Ho, ho, ho!" we can have a good chuckle.

Many friends on the east coast of the US are chuckling today because nature chucked down a good foot of snow over the past 12 hours and many of them are forced to stay home and 'chill'. Those who were due to travel are hopeful for a break so that they can go; that includes my daughter who should be headed from Virginia to The Bahamas, but judging by the picture of her garden, chances look slim. Ironically, I just headed back from there yesterday and had the bad weather trailing behind. If you love skiing and sledding then out you go and hope not to crack a rib or two. My littlest one loves cold weather and falling on her tush while ice skating during the week was one of her high spots: not every one thinks that constant warmth and sunshine every day is paradise.

We often get 'stir crazy' after a few days cooped up in the house, so we will see how the fun lasts for those stuck in the snow. No one will mind a few days extra off from work, and chestnuts roasting by the open fire is a lovely thought. I would send a few bottles of rum to help along the proceedings, and ensure a pleasant if not silent night.

But Christmas is really about giving, though children often see only the getting side of that. Friends fall over themselves to give to children. Godparents of my daughter gave her a few boxes to jam into her suitcase as we departed from DC yesterday, and then also produced a little horse head on a stick. It happened to be just too long for any suitcase, so we had to carry it by hand. When you press the ear of the horse it neighs, so we were happy to not have that droning up from the hold. But as we checked in the airlines had to deal with finding seats for two people and a horse. Amongst the constant panic of terrorism, it was interesting that the horse head stick raised not an eyebrow: presumably all the scanners found it stuffed with nothing but stuffing.

But giving is good and already with no sight of Santa we are getting gifts, including a nice surprise during our breakfast at Brighton's Farmer's Market this morning. But as always we have to spare more than a few thoughts for those who will have nothing to give and nothing to get. It should never be that way but it is. So, while those of us who can love each other and hand over what we wish, stretch out our hands, our fingers should take the gifts with a little reluctance, knowing that we probably have all we need and could wish for already. That makes the joy of Christmas a little bitter-sweet

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