Love/Hate Romance with Christmas!

For every child growing up in the islands Christmas is one of the best times of year. However, even though I looked forward to Christmas I also dreaded the work that I had to do before the big day arrived.

In the period that I grew up in Trinidad one usually received a "caps gun" and a few rolls of caps that led to some good “stick em up games”. Sometimes the gift would have been water guns and if you were really lucky you could expect to get some clothing – a pair of pants and one shirt (if you were lucky). Other than the toys one always looked forward to the food. Oh man, cassava pone, sweetbread, homemade bread, ginger beer (non alcoholic made from the ginger root), sorrel drink, Peardrax, Cydrax and some Carib shandy. Of course one of the chores that I did not mind doing was the boiling of the ham. That was my job to boil the “tar ham” outside in the yard in an ‘oil pan’ on rocks with firewood – that was fun!

The parts of the holiday that I absolutely hated were the chores and other assignments. I had to clean the yard and that meant weeding the grass and sweeping all the mango leaves that made life difficult. Next I had the job to paint the outside of the house. I remember climbing that shaky makeshift ladder with the paint pan and brush – gosh I hated painting. The next job that I had and absolutely hated was the sanding and polishing of the furniture – oh my God I hated doing that as much as having to sand the wood floors and applying the polyurethane varnish.

I loved the good things about Christmas, the shows on television and the festive feeling with the parang bands coming to the house (no one really knew an entire song in Spanish but we did not care). It was a time for caring and sharing and to emphasize that point even people whom you had disagreements with came over and had 'a drink'. It was wonderful to be a child and experience the good things about the Christmas holiday period. It would have been better if I did not have the chores to do – what were your experiences?

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