So more than half of the windows in my house are locked tight. The road is glistening from intermittent showers, and Christmas breeze is making its presence felt at nights by rustling the naseberry and coconut trees and forcing me to draw sheet up to mi neck and assume the fetal position.
Yes, it’s December, the time of year when many Jamaicans habitually claim not to ‘si’ Christmas because of the state of the economy yet still manage to buy few tins of Berger to touch up di house and front wall.
My foreign friends, if you’ve never stayed in Jamaica at Christmas time or haven’t been to this side of the globe in donkey’s years, let me paint a picture for you of what it’s like.
It’s that time of year when:
1. Weather reports from the Met Office (The Meteorological Service of Jamaica) advise of troughs across the Caribbean, cold fronts across Florida and isolated and widely scattered showers and cloudy conditions across some or most parishes. In other words, it’s getting chilly in JA.
2. Fog and mist descend on our mountain range.
3. We’re prone to catching colds or ketching draught; so, we keep the tried and true handy, like Bay Rum, overproof white rum, Kananga Water or Florida Water, to wet our heads or sniff.
4. The backs of kitchen cupboards and breakfronts become hiding places for big jars of raisins, currants and mixed peel, soaking in Red Label Wine in preparation for cake baking.
5. People from the UK and North America book flights to spend weeks with kinfolk in various parts of the island.
6. Up to two cruise ships can be docked at the piers in Ocho Rios on any given day.
7. Plazas, arcades and supermarkets are bustling with shoppers determined to benefit from deals and promotions. Finding a quick parking spot is gradually turning into a pipe dream.
8. The police are out and about, strolling along sidewalks and peeping into stores, and they, along with the National Road Safety Council, banks and security companies, are in the media disseminating safety tips for the season.
9. Trees, shrubs and old tires in our front yards are now targets for string lights or a coat of whitewash–if you’re doing it old school.
10. Curtain and bedspread purchases are on the increase, and comforters become more than just bed decoration.
11. The most anticipated program of all time, Greetings Across the World, rolls out on Television Jamaica (TVJ).
12. Radio stations increase rotation of annual staples like Frank Kelly’s “Christmas Countdown (Dear Nola)”; Joe Gibbs’ “Let Christmas Catch You in a Good Mood”; Carla Thomas’ “Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas”; Boris Gardiner’s “The Meaning of Christmas”; Luther Vandross’ “May Christmas Bring You Happiness”; and Salsoul Orchestra’s “Merry Christmas All”, “Christmas Time” and “The Little Drummer Boy”.
Do you have memories of Christmas in Jamaica? Share them with us in the comments section. I, personally, would love to hear.
Love and peace.
1. Want to see what’s happening with Jamaica’s weather? Visit http://www.metservice.gov.jm/index.asp
2. To find out more about the Jamaican products mentioned in this article, you may visit their respective websites. Here are a couple: