I have not participated or celebrated Christmas in many years. I hate the consumerism and the debt that American ideas of Christmas has become synonymous with. It hurts my soul to see the celebration of unmitigated greed and the love of things over humanity.
Christmas in Jamaica is so much different. It is not about gifts or decorations but about family peace and love. There is not much buildup to the holiday season. Last Tuesday I want with my host family to see the Christmas program that the middle son was in. I actually got to get dressed up and wear some fabulous heels!
The rest of the week was spent cleaning and preparing for guests that I had planned for the holidays. Josh and Duncan had planned on staying on the 23rd to see Star Wars. Duncan stayed until today. Even though I do not celebrate, it is nice to not be alone on a day that can feel so very lonely.
I baked the Saturday before the holiday and had a couple of ladies join me, since not everyone has an oven of their own! I made dozens, I mean dozens of gingerbread drops and sugar cookies. I also made two batches of fudge, one plain and one mint laced with ground up candy canes! If you know anyone here that would like some, please send them my way!
I did get the kids in the family some small gifts. I even wrapped them in Christmas wrapping, which is not common here. It was all I could do to wait until Christmas Eve to give the gifts to them. Two younger boys got marbles and these neat wooden marble shooters. The girl that lives here got a rubber-band loom to create bracelets and rings with. The oldest son I had the hardest time with and settled on a domino set he can take back to Kingston with him when he returns to school.
The days leading to the holidays were exciting. The sister-in-law arrived with her youngest daughter, then the oldest daughter from a previous marriage arrived. Christmas Eve her 11 year old son arrived. There are two more children that had some paperwork issues and they along with the brother were unable to make it here. On the 22nd I was invited to go to the beach with the kids and the aunt. It was amazing fun and I feel like I was able to bond a little more with the family. I would love to spend more time with them.
On the 23rd Josh arrived mid morning and I went to the square to gather him and guide him to my home. My home is not exactly easy to find and many Taxi Drivers will not go up into the scheme, they tend to despise being asked to go there. We had lunch of pasta and sauce and then chilled for awhile until it was late enough to go down to Ochi and meet up with Duncan. I bought the tickets on Monday night to ensure they did not sell out.
Tickets were $1800 JD. This is around $16 USD. It included the movie and a party between the two showings. The party included a food spread. Chicken and fish with sauce, grilled cheese and rum punch or rum and pineapple juice. There were also some amazing cakes and they dropped balloons on us as the Imperial March played in the lobby. I will refrain from reviewing the movie for those who may not have already seen it, but I do suggest if you end up being in a foreign country during a premiere of a movie of this much hype and you can go for a decent price with a premiere party, do so! It was amazing. The theater had a few Jamaicans in it but mostly expats or tourists filled up the theater.
We managed to make it back home at a decent hour and watched a movie and snacked all night. Josh had to leave the next day, originally the plan was to go with my host family to Gran Marke (Grand Market). I did not realize the family had no intension on going until later that night. I ended up talking my supervisor’s son into taking Josh to the main to catch a taxi, they were not running much in the community due to an all night running schedule. Josh made it back safely and wanted my fudge recipe.
Duncan and I reached down to Ochi in the early afternoon to shop for dinner supplies. We settled on veggie tacos. They were amazing and tasted great. We met with Jess and she came home with us to join us in the festivities of the night. Gran Marke is a huge open market, streets are closed off and venders are everywhere. There are also huge music set ups and you can drink beer or rum while wandering down the street. It is suggested that you do not go alone and you should go with Jamaicans. This is how everyone ended up with me. Although Shemar is only 19 and he had other ideas. We ended up joining up with Bill and Lois’s kids and their hosts. At some point in the night, I stopped to pick something up and lost the group. I had left my phone home and this sent me into a bit of a panic. I ended up running into several people from my community so it was not so bad. I finally found Shemar again and hung out with him until he told me he had a job at 2:30am at the strip club ( he is a photographer). I decided that my best course of action was to find a taxi home. I could then call people and let them know I made it home and figure out what to do with Duncan.
I got home and called Duncan, he said he was actually in a Taxi on the way up to my place. I gave him directions to give the driva (driver) and he eventually made it to me. Apparently they had all gone to a local club, Ocean’s 11, which at one point I almost went to. I missed the discussion about going there, so I had no idea where they were headed to. In the end I think I had a much more Jamaican experience than the rest simply due to being out on the streets for a few hours with other Jamaicans.
My only plan for Christmas day was that I wanted to go to the beach. We slept in and watched a movie while we prepared breakfast and coffee. We managed to find a taxi and get to the beach. It was great and we ran into Tressa and her kids. We spent about an hour and a half there, but due to the beating sun and too much rich food, lack of exercise and too much alcohol we were pretty beat. Tressa offered us a ride back, and we both gratefully accepted. We got home and found that the host family kids and sister-in-law had gone to the beach. I thought about being disappointed but then realized how much I just wanted to be. I was tired and exhausted and just needed time to rest.
We ended up watching American Hustle and Brazil, which was my plan for Christmas night. I wanted to watch it and Facetime with Richard but he had not planned on getting out of bed! We made a rice and mushroom gravy casserole type dish for supper and it was amazing. I eventually crawled into bed and passed out.
In the end the only thing that could have made this Christmas better would have been spending it with Richard. Maybe next year I will have him spend a couple days here to experience it with me, maybe!