Holiday season has drastically changed over the decades. Houses lined with lights and tacky decor are more of a "sighting" than something to go see. Consumerism is at an all-time high with the Christmas promotions sitting right next to the Trick or Treat candies at the end of October. Political correctness has overthrown free speach and puplic opinion as you whisper "Happy Chrismahaunikwanza" under your breath making sure to simultaneously greet, while not offending.
However you decide to spend your holiday time, a few things for me signify the season. Because I am mixed-race, my early childhood was quite Canadian, experiencng things like Kraft Dinner and ketchup, Beans and Wieners, Sheppard's pie and Tang. My latter years I was raised in a Jamaican household, my holiday signifiers are rooted in both those traditions. Some of you may relate, others may learn something new! Either way check out a short list of a few of my Favourite Holiday Things:
Part of Christmas for Caribbeans is "nyamming". Especially Bun. Non-West Indians please note; this is always singular, no matter how many loaves or slices. Referring to this festive snack in this way will bump up your authenticity should you find yourself in the company of Caribbean's. Although traditionally eaten at Christmas and Easter, there's no special reason for bun-consumption other than it tastes damn nice! Now, not all bun is created equal. Despite it's appearance, this is nothing like your secretary's fruit cake turned door stopper. A good bun is soft and moist, with just the right combination of spices, raisins and cured fruits and a super soft, shiny, "crust". Best served with Jamaican "tin cheese" if you can find it.
Ah sorrel. Where to begin...The smell of sorrel wafting through the air is one of the most wonderful smells on earth. A rich soothing blend of the sweetness sorrel blossoms, the warmth of nutmeg and cinnamon, the heat of Jamaican ginger and a kick from Mr. Wray and his Nephew. Sorrel is a liquid treasure consumed widely across the Caribbean. Most highly sought after whenever Jesus is in town i.e. Christmas and Easter. Some like to mix equal parts with Carib and enjoy a shandy with a slice of #5
#3 Stop Motion Movies,The Grinch and T.U.L.D.A.
Ya, so I'm not born in Jamaica, my father was. LOL! I'm a born and bred Torontonian with part of my mother's half hailing from Nova Scotia. What up Callander/Cianco/Carter/Brooks Crew Bup bup bup! Ok so back when I believed in Santa and the whole nine, I was just fascinated with the Rankin/Brooks stop motion movies. I would sit there wondering how they did it wishing I worked in the elf workshop. It never really stopped. And of course no Chrismahaunikwanza is complete without Dr. Seuss and the Grinch in all his green grouchy glory! Now many of you are probably wondering what T.U.L.D.A. is. Well that would be my cousin Trina's department as she is the unofficial President of The Urban Line Dancing Association. This could be anything from Cameo's "Candy" to Mr. C's "Cha Cha Slide". If there are instructions and a beat we bout it. Especially if we're in uhhh "good spirits"
#4 Jamaican Christmas Carols
After the sweet smells of sorrel have settled in, the drunk cousins are done line dancing, bun finish nyamm off, slices of #5 start making the rounds and the familiar stammer of Jacob Miller starts to play as Uncle so and so starts dancing to Rockaz; glass in hand, doing some deep squat movement, knees high.... and smiling! "Silver be-eh-eh-ells oo-ee-ah-ee-ah-ah-ah" The thing about classic reggae is that it is truly timeless. Every time you play it, it gives you the exact same enjoyment as the first time you took it in. From the dropped beat to the laid back lazy twangy lyrics that casts the overall smokey yet sunshiny vibe. It really is the soundtrack to Caribbean lifestyle.
#5 Black Cake
Most West Indian kids have heard the phrase "BLACK Caaake!?.....What's that!?" followed by an explanation of the rich dense drunken goodness that is the Caribbean staple Christmas cake. There is an unspoken competition and hunt for the best black cake every year. Ideal slices are hidden and hoarded, and as the tin foil starts the run out the coveted slices can be found sandwiched between front facing paper plates, with other leftover staples and gifted bottles of rum and sorrel by the door. This is the last hour of Holiday dinner where we labrish and long talk at the door. Sweating is usually a fair sign, its time to finally get in the running car.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM CLEANLOCS