In my home country Christmas starts way too early. Before Halloween you can hear Christmas music and decorations are insidiously going up in retail stores. I no longer celebrate because Christmas is ruined for me. My mother once said that to me, but she still loves all things Christmas and she posts online Christmas and winter posts waaaaaaaay too early. I give her leave for being technologically challenged and she has admitted she doesn’t even know how to post a picture to Facebook.
In 2006 I had had enough. Some of my ex-co workers think I am angry, one even suggested that I did not deserve the day off since it meant nothing to me. In reality it is simply that the season has lost its meaning. For me the magic of Christmas was a time to look forward to, not have shoved down my throat before I had even stuffed myself at Thanksgiving. In my childhood the cities and stores did not decorate until early the day after Thanksgiving. The local parade also happened that day. Black Friday was not some mob of just spending money. It was not even called Black Friday back then. It was the day after Thanksgiving, it was the day we got our tree and put it up. It was the day that mom might have gone shopping, but it was not an obsession.
Recently a young Jamaican man texted me and asked about Santa. First off I must point out this young man is 21 and he for some reason that baffles me thinks that I might hook up with him at some point. I told him I was married and that I had no interest in dating someone my son’s age. This stems from my dad marrying a woman a year younger than me and having a child younger than his grandchildren. In my opinion it is disgraceful and I resented it. What it really did was make me question if my dad was a creeper and was he hitting on my girlfriends when they came over and spent the night. Yikes, I hate to think of it, but I also know exactly how it made me feel. I cannot and will not do that to my children, ever.
Anyway, this man asked me about Santa, yeah Santa, a big fat red fairy tale that shows the inequality an social divisions so painfully that I have never believed in nor have I encouraged my kids to believe in. I have never believed in this fairy tale. I told this man that and that I no longer celebrate Christmas. He responded as to how sad that is. In a country that does not celebrate gift giving I found his response strange. He even suggested that my mom did not give me gifts as a child. This is far from the truth. She spent far too much which set me up to feel frustrated and failure when I could not spend that kind of money on my children for Christmas. I could not give them what they wanted. I could barely give them what they needed.
Since 2006 I have celebrated Christmas in a Jewish tradition. Movies and Chinese food and a lot of alcohol. My kids seemed to enjoy this tradition and realized how much less stress it made in our lives. I still do not exchange gifts, and when people give me a gift it makes me very uncomfortable. I do not have the money to return the favor nor do I want to spend the time to find the right gift, and it feels like an afterthought.
When I hear the term war on Christmas I seriously want to shove an angel up some idiot’s ass! Seriously it is not even a Christian holiday, it is a Pagan celebration. It was adapted by the Christians to pull the pagans into the Christian fold without a fuss about losing their holidays. As a non-christian and a person that just wants to be a good person and do good, I think this holiday has lost all of its depth, until now.
In Jamaica December 1 you start to hear Carol’s and music that is festive. You hear it in the taxi, bus or local stores. You can hear it in the streets and people will sing along, well honestly they sing along to almost anything at anytime for no reason other than they like the song. It is refreshing to see that not everyone puts up lights, or if they do it is modest since current is expensive. There is not a Clark Griswold house anywhere that I have seen. There is an excitement in the air as schools gets ready to close down. There is this over whelming desire to scrub your home. There will be new paint and curtains in many homes, or at least washing of all surfaces and washing the curtains.
The other thing that I notice is there is an abundance of sweets. This also happens in America, but here the sweets are made from scratch and they tend to cook all Christmas eve night. I will get there soon. The Jamaican fruit cake or rum cake are very popular. The making of sorrel drink is going to start anyday now. Sorrel is a type of hibiscus and I honestly think it is the same flower that makes hibiscus tea, the flowers look the same.
Many families will try to secure a goat to cook down Mannish water and curry goat for the feast. Almost everyone will save up to purchase new clothes for the holidays. Even the smallest child will have a fancy new dress or suit. Unlike America where the focus is on buying stuff, here they focus on food, drink and parties.
On Christmas Eve most major cities will have a Grand Market. (Gran Market) The children look forward to Christmas Eve. Parents tend to give the children looser control. Kids love the market. The family will get dressed up and spend the entire day at the market, but then later the party starts. Kids are included in these parties and they often go well into the dawn. Which is when church starts for Christmas day.
Overall instead of being a stressful and financially draining holiday, Christmas here is about love and celebration. If this is how Christmas is celebrated in other parts of the World, maybe I can embrace the season again. Maybe I will start a new tradition with my children. Maybe I will have them meet me somewhere for a party that is amazing and a relaxing day at the beach, because that is what is going to happen for me this year.