Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night

It’s the season of giving, also the season of receiving, marked by our usual rampant consumerism. Traffic and cashier lines lengthen as we scramble to find the perfect presents, decorations and baking supplies. The festive season is more frustrating than celebratory. Isn’t that right, Mr. Grinch?

But as little Cindy-Lou Who reminds us, Christmas is more than just packages, boxes and bags. In the spirit of the holiday I want to share ten things I’m grateful for in this maddening season.

1. Despite the upward spike in crime in St. James my family and I have so far been spared from any direct attacks of gun violence.

2. I can afford to by Christmas presents for the people in my life. Just a few years ago, I would never have been able to.

3. Barbados and a few other Caribbean countries voted against Trump’s Jerusalem agenda in the UN referendum. They give me hope.

4. Technology helps me stay in touch with friends who are travelling the world. Kind of like if the Wise Men had Skype and Amazon Prime.

5. Even though I don’t own a car, I have unrestricted access to one. And even though it isn’t perfect, it’s never left me stranded.

6. 2017 was a year of plenty forward momentum in my career. I am grateful that I continue to grow and learn so much as a primary care physician.

7. Christmas breeze ah blow! I am very grateful for my water heater that saves my toes from frostbite.

8. I recently got an oven and I look forward to brushing off my rusty baking skills. I am grateful for the promise of Christmas cookies.

9. A lot of people I know have to work this Christmas, especially at the hospital. I’m grateful that my Christmas holiday involves staying home, sipping tea and petting my cat.

10. These candles are making my house smell like warm cozy Christmas nights, and I love it.

What are you grateful for at this time of year?

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So this is Christmas?

Christmas has been changing a lot for me over the years but somehow the season still imbues me with a strong sense of tradition.

Christmas is almost universal, at least it is within the Caribbean. What I like about this holiday is that no matter where you go at this time of year, you’ll find a Christmas tree or plastic Santa Clause or two to reassure you that the rest of the world is just as keen as spending money they don’t have as you are.

Or, less cynically, that everyone celebrates the same things you do. It’s a lot easier to spend Christmas away from home when all the same traditions apply here as well: all day cooking, baking fruit cake, Christmas sprucing-up, sit-down dinners.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. . .

. . .so enjoy the cast of Doctor Who singing a Christmas carol.

I effing love these guys.

Girl on Bim Day 3: Christmas breeze does blow cold on de rock

Sometimes it’s nice to just to stay at home, where the breeze blows cold and the Bajan rain sounds so different on the rooftops from Jamaican rain but it’s a good different, soothing-like, lulling me into a warm sleep ’cause I’m already wrapped up to my eyelashes in blankets and surrounded on all sides by love.

source: Richard Wilson's blog
apparently this is a real place.

Girl on Bim Day 2 | The rain in Barbados falls mainly on. . . Barbados

pneumonia medicine probably tastes like mauby.

After sleeping the sleep of the jetlagged the day before, I’m up before seven this morning ready and rearing to go. And go I do. Today, I venture into the city: Bridgetown.

Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados, in more ways than just geographically. It’s the shopping and cultural centre as well; everything happens here. And almost every things that happens in Bridgetown seems to happen along Broad Street. I go window shopping in the vast, rambling departments of Cave Shepherd and I learn one very important fact: things are not cheap here.

It rains.

We run into the nearest Chefette and kill two birds with one stone. Chefette is a uniquely Bajan restaurant, sort of a cross between KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut but somehow not quite achieving the same excellence of flavour it would have if it had devoted its energies to just one fare. But the food still tastes good, with the exception of one drink option they can only offer in Barbados: mauby.

image not mine.
deceptively yummy-looking.

Mauby is a flavour of soda (also sold as a syrup, and – I would like to think – a paint stripper) derived from the bark of the Mauby tree. It is black and fizzy much like Coca-Cola, but there the resemblance ends. Mauby is as bitter as a jilted bride, with a burn at the back of your throat reminiscent of really bad tequila. It is no Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

We go back home.

Later in the evening is a small Christmas party, held at the nearby Home for the Physically Challenged. It’s my first time singing carols with a group of people who aren’t in a church, let alone with a group of people who are so enthusiastic (if somewhat dysarthric) in their renditions.

The exposure to Bajan culture and customs is much less overt here where we are just a group of people, some more challenged than others but still people, congregating to celebrate the season. The lines between J’can and Bajan blur enough for me to slip under them and fit right in, serving plates of fresh-from-Chefette Christmas fare and smiling with everyone I see.

We aren’t so different, you know.

{27} Remember, Remember

There’s lots of things we think of when November rolls around, not just gunpowder, treason and plot. November means All Saints’ Day, Día de los Muertos (hat tips to anyone celebrating those lovely cultural days) Thanksgiving. And November means Christmas shopping.

All Saint’s Day and Día de los Muertos were observed yesterday on the first. I’ve always wanted to see a Día de los Muertos celebration; the idea of commemorating ancestral spirits holds a special kind of appeal for me.

That, and I really love dead people.

As a non-American, Thanksgiving is actually the last thing that comes to mind when I think about November. But it’s not foreign to my culture at all. In fact we Jamaicans tend to be hyped up on US culture (what with living under their thumb) and it’s mostly because of the expats and the tourists who pretty much live here. So when you walk into certain supermarkets in certain areas of town, Halloween tricks, Thanksgiving treats and Christmas toys are all up for sale.

In different sections of the store, of course.

November for us is really a transition month. In October we had (not Halloween!) Heroes’ Day, our local/cultural celebration. It’s like Founder’s Day in the States, only it’s a bank holiday as well. Then you’ve got Christmas in December. And we ex-colonies really love our Christmas holiday. So November is the month that gets relegated to things like clearance sales (so shops can stock up on overpriced Christmas gizmos), early Christmas carols (played by overeager radio stations) and a preponderance of Christmas cards (so you know exactly what to spend your paycheck on). It’s one big pre-Christmas jamboree.

November also marks the end of the hurricane season, so that's another reason to spend horrible amounts of money. (Read: celebrate)

And I must say I love the feel of Tropical Christmas in the air. The cooling breeze. The overstocked department stores filled with people spending more money than they have. The Christmas paadnas coming to fruition. The children who get to go crazy for two weeks before they get OD’d on worm medicine to go back to school.

Ah, good times.