Christmas time is here. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to be immune to the sights and sounds. This is the one holiday where the anticipation of the celebrations begins in advance. For example, you can start hearing Christmas Carols on the radio as early as October 15. For me and I guess for many of us, it was these songs that rekindled the fond memories of past Christmas.
Christmas is full of nostalgia. And this is so even for the very young. This is the time when parents and grandparents return to the traditions that made their Christmas memorable – the decorations of the Christmas trees, the food, the drinks, and most of all the stories.
I was about six years old when my grandparents came to live with us in a flat my mother built at the back of our house. My grandmother was a fun extrovert, but as Catholic as the pope, maybe more so (my grandfather was quite the opposite). Advent, the season in the Christian calendar that preceded Christmas, was strictly observed. Novena was never a choice, it was essential – oh those early, early mornings.
But having my grandmother live so close was a definite advantage. As far as she could, she insisted on cooking her own food and baking her own cakes and bread. For six growing children, it meant there was always something extra to explode on, but at Christmas – it was heaven. It meant two pots of pepper, two sets of cake and double assists of all the goodies. See? The nostalgia I’m referring to.
In this issue of Lifestyle, our cover story – ‘A Guyanese Christmas’ – delights in reminiscence. Four Guyanese, who have made their homes in other parts of the world recall the things they miss most and the things that make Christmas in Guyana unique. Ranging from the weather, to the food, to the people, their holiday recall runs the gamut of everything Christmas. ‘Break up’ the house; shopping in some shops that do not even exist today; varnishing furniture and polishing the floor, these stories are overloaded with nostalgia, but in a good way. In fact, they are so heartwarming that even Scrooge would feel a bit of a Christmas spirit.
Cynthia Nelson goes back to her childhood Christmas in ‘Home for the Holidays’ with some similar memories. But then she brings a modern twist with three delicious dishes linking the past with the present. It’s certainly not what Grandmother would have prepared but they are just delicious Christmas screaming, and the inclusion of detailed recipes means you can start making them part of your tradition now.
Cynthia talks about the way Guyanese have always celebrated every religious festival anyway, and Jannelle Williams’ look back at Diwali, observed last month, highlights this.
In ‘Celebrating Diwali: Past and Present,’ Jannelle does more than tell the story of Diwali, which has now become part of our collective folklore. Her feature article investigates the reasons why Diwali is celebrated by various groups of Hindus in Guyana and segues between the observations back in the present and the present.
Wherever you are this Christmas, we hope you find joy in the season. Merry Christmas.
December 1, 2015